Cameron House bosses warned about storing ashes in cupboards, inquest finds

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Bones in a hotel that would later go up in flames, claiming the lives of two men, were told by a fire inspector about the danger of storing combustible materials in some cupboards.

Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, died when a fire broke out at the Cameron House hotel near Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond on December 18, 2017.

A fatality inquest heard on Thursday that in August of the same year, James Clark of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service highlighted some of the hotel’s concerns during a routine inspection.

“Where the integrity of walls or ceilings has been breached to carry out repair work or allow the passage of services, they must be reinstalled or fire rated using materials that provide the original standard of fire resistance. Particular attention should be given to the janitor’s closet,” its report states.

Simon Midgley, right, and Richard Dyson died in the Cameron House hotel fire (Family handout/PA) / PA Media

And in the six-point letter sent to the hotel, he said: ‘All fire doors should have the self-closing devices checked, adjusted/repaired or replaced and then kept self-closing from all angles. opening, including the fully open position. .”

He added: “Combustible storage must not be enclosed in the cabinet containing the electrical installation devices”.

David McKerry, who was a property manager at the time, accompanied Mr Clark on his inspection and told Crown attorney Graeme Jessop he had arranged for the voids to be filled “on-the-fly”. -field” by a contractor who was already on site.

The 45-year-old told the inquest that staff were asked to remove the newspapers from the room and when checked at the end of the day they were and were put away.

Night porter Christopher O’Malley has previously admitted breaking health and safety rules (Andrew Milligan/PA) / PA wire

Craig Paton, 46, the hotel’s general manager, told the inquest he was unaware the kindling was stored in the cupboard and said he understood it only contained a chalkboard fuses and not an electrical installation.

In the early hours of December 18, night porter Christopher O’Malley dumped the ashes and embers from a fuel fire into a plastic bag, then put them in a closet of kindling and newspapers. The hotel then caught fire.

When Mr Paton was called to the hotel after the fire broke out, he told the inquest he remembered seeing ‘smoke billowing from the hotel’ and the ‘light of the fire illuminating the line of heaven”.

He said that at one point upon arrival he was “told that there were potentially missing guests” and then was under the impression that a roll call of guests had already been taken.

The inquest was told on Tuesday that in 2016 Mark Clayton, the director of veterans fire safety, said there should be a written policy in place for disposing of ashes from open fires and grills.

Sebastian Pinn, 48, who was the hotel’s deputy general manager until the summer of 2016, told the inquest he had not prepared an open fire policy.

Michael Wisekal, a fire investigator commissioned by West Dunbartonshire Council to produce a report on the safe handling of ashes, told the inquest that a written procedure would have ensured everyone followed the same process .

He told the inquest how someone cleaning a fire could check if the ashes were hot, which included moving the ashes with a metal shovel through the fire or using an infrared thermometer.

Mark Stewart QC, acting for O’Malley, asked if a temperature probe used for something like measuring the temperature of a piece of beef could tell someone if the ashes were still hot. “I imagine that would be the case,” Mr. Wisekal told him.

Hotel operator Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd has already been fined £500,000 over the fire, and night porter Christopher O’Malley, who admitted breaching health and safety laws security, received a reimbursement order from the community.

The investigation at Paisley Sheriff Court, before Sheriff Thomas McCartney, continues.