Gavin Collison (pictured above leaving court) survived the fire in which his wife and two children died in December last year
A heartbroken father heard today how the fire that killed his wife and two children was probably started by an electrical fault in their conservatory.
Gavin Collison managed to survive the fire at the family home in Nottinghamshire, which an inquest heard took 22 minutes to become ‘extremely well developed’.
His wife, Justine Collison, 32, died from smoke inhalation, as well as eight-year-old daughter Isabella and five-year-old son Harvey, on December 15 last year.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service were unable to establish the precise ‘seat’ of the early morning blaze at the property in Collingham.
The inquest heard Mrs Collison was found dead in her bed, while Isabella and Harvey were transported to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham after being found unresponsive.
Harvey suffered a brain injury as a result of the blaze and his basic life support was stopped several hours later, as he died in his grandparents’ arms.
Mrs Collison (centre) was found dead in her bed, while Isabella (left) and Harvey (right) were transported to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham after being found unresponsive
Gavin and Justine (pictured above) had been socialising with friends on the evening of the accident
A bunch of flowers can be seen left outside the property following the blaze in December last year
Isabella suffered a cardiac arrest at the scene and emergency services continued to administer CPR on the way to hospital, but she died around two hours after the fire started.
Only 34-year-old father Gavin Collison and the children’s grandmother, Diane Fletcher, were able to survive.
Giving evidence at Nottingham Coroner’s Court today, fire service investigator Tom Archer said the most probable cause was an electrical fault in the conservatory, but he was unable to identify the precise ‘seat’ of the fire.
He added that a number of items were examined, including a television, disco lights, electric piano and external Christmas lights – but said: ‘We are not able to narrow it down. Beyond that it would be speculation.’
Justine (centre), Isabella (left) and Harvey (right) died from smoke inhalation at their family home in Nottinghamshire
The inquest heard that the cause of the fire was probably accidental. Justine, Harvey and Isabella pictured above
The hearing was told investigators, who ‘traced every wire and sieved the conservatory down to the ground’, were able to say the fire didn’t start on the family’s Christmas tree – because its lights were battery-operated.
The inquest was told Mr and Mrs Collison had been socialising in ‘party mood’ with friends until the early hours of the morning and had parted company around 20 minutes before the fire started.
Neighbours had tried to alert the family about the fire, but the blaze was so severe they were unable to get near the property.
Addressing how the blaze started, Mr Archer said: ‘Coming to the most likely cause of the fire, the most probable is accidental electrical.
The inquest heard there was no evidence to suggest that the fire was started deliberately. Justine (left) and Isabella and Harvey (right)
The children had been remembered by their schools, who paid tribute to the youngsters. (Family pictured above on the London Eye)
‘We looked at the electrical supply in the conservatory and there was no evidence one thing had caused this fire.’
Also speaking at the inquest, Detective Sergeant Mark Shaw of Nottinghamshire Police said there was no evidence to suggest the fire was started deliberately.
Concluding all three deaths were accidental, Coroner Mairin Casey said: ‘I read and I accept that the causes of deaths were that all three died as a result of smoke inhalation.
‘I’m satisfied that all the emergency services attended the scene at the earliest opportunity and police and the fire service started what was to be a comprehensive investigation.’
The inquest heard how the children would remain in people’s hearts forever (family on the London Eye, above)
The coroner offered her deepest sympathies to Mr Collison who ‘mercifully survived the tragedy’, saying: ‘It is my fervent hope that you will pull together in this grieving process.’
Outlining how the two children were remembered by their school, Miss Casey continued: ‘Isabella was a gentle and caring girl who will be truly missed by those who knew her.
‘Held in high regard by the rest of her class, Izzy was quiet and unassuming, but this did not stop her from putting her all into everything she did.
‘Harvey was very creative. He was kind and caring.
‘He made a handbag out of cardboard boxes for his mum because she was always mislaying her phone.
‘They will remain in our hearts forever.’