A CIGARETTE has been confirmed as the likely cause of the fatal house fire in Clarence Avenue, but the family affected have been left angry and upset at being ‘the last to know’.
Brothers William, 9, AJ, 5 and their sister Maddie, 3, lost their lives in the blaze on November 11 and their mother Samantha Hudson, 27, remains unresponsive in Scarborough Hospital.
Now, after weeks of investigations by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, police and forensics experts, it has emerged that a cigarette was the likely cause of the blaze.
It is thought that a cigarette which had not been put out properly fell onto clothing near the bay window of the ground floor living room and could have smouldered for hours before producing flames.
However, Sharon Hudson, Samantha’s mother, says that this revelation has caused the family ‘untold upset’ because the information was released to the media before the family was informed.
“My husband found out about it by accident when he was looking for something else on the internet,” said Sharon.
“It was obviously a real shock to us because you would have thought that we would be the first to be told about this, but it felt like we were actually the last to know.
“It has caused untold upset, I cried when I saw it on the internet and couldn’t understand why we hadn’t been told that they thought it was a cigarette, and why that information was released to the media before us.
“We were getting phone calls from our family in West Yorkshire asking us whether it was true, and all we could say was, ‘we don’t know, we haven’t been told anything’.”
A further worry for the family was that Samantha may have heard the news on a radio she has in her hospital room.
Sharon said: “She has a radio on constantly and when we realised this news was public, we asked them to turn it off in case Sam heard it.
“We’ve had flu so haven’t been able to see her this last week, so if she had heard it and understood it, we wouldn’t have been there to comfort her.
“It’s not even definite that a cigarette was the cause,” Sharon added.
Samantha is still unaware of the deaths of her three children, though Sharon said the family is hopeful she will progress with her recovery and she can now sit up in a chair.
A spokesman from Humberside fire and rescue service said that investigations had concluded that a cigarette was ‘the most likely cause’ of the fire.
The service is now stepping up its efforts to educate people against the dangers of cigarettes in the home after revealing that ten people, including William, AJ and Maddie, lost their lives in house fires in the region over the last year.
Area Manager Mark Rhodes, Head of Operations and Community Protection for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Despite our ongoing efforts to educate people about the dangers of fire there is still much more to be done to prevent people from dying in their own homes.
“It is concerning that far too many people still think that it will never happen to them.
“The stark reality is that fire can devastate your life if you fail to take a few simple steps to protect yourself and your family.”
l The Free Press Clarence Avenue Fund, set up to help the Hudson family, has now passed the £1,000 mark thanks to the generosity of local people. At the time of going to press, the fund stood at £1,040 and has been boosted by fund-raising events in the town as well as many cheques sent to the Free Press office.
The money may be used to buy headstones for the three children and anyone can donate to the account by visiting the Yorkshire Bank on Queen Street and quoting the Free Press Clarence Avenue Fund.