POLICE are painstakingly creating an exact replica of a family’s home as part of the ongoing investigation into a fatal house fire in West Yorkshire which took the lives of two young boys.
A fully furnished reconstruction of the upper storey of the house is being built to scale inside a laboratory to allow experts to study how the blaze spread.
Logan Taylor, three, and Jake Casey, two, died after the fire broke out inside a semi-detached house in Alder Street, Huddersfield, last February.
Today the extraordinary steps being taken to investigate their deaths were revealed as the county’s force issued a public appeal for an old Samsung television – the final item being sought in the reconstruction.
The findings could result in what the lead investigator believes would be a national test case of legislation requiring landlords to provide working smoke alarms on every storey of a private property.
Detective Superintendent Steve Thomas said: “The regulations relating to landlords and private properties only came into force in October 2015. It’s fairly new and untested.
“We have to make sure that we can say whether or not working smoke alarms would have made an impact in a property or not.
“We thought we’ll never know unless we give it a go. Until we present everything to the Crown Prosecution Service, we don’t know whether or not they would support a charge. It’s a bit of a test case I would have thought.”
The blaze is believed to have started in the front bedroom of house at around 2.15pm on February 20.
The children’s mother and older brother managed to escape before firefighters arrived.
A rescuer, thought to be a neighbour, tried to get in by climbing on a veranda at the back of the house but it was firefighters using breathing apparatus who eventually reached the two younger boys. They were taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary but could not be saved.
The focus for the investigating team at present is replicating the conditions inside the house as closely as possible.
Information from the fire investigation will then be used to recreate how the blaze began, with cameras used to film how the flames spread.
Det Supt Thomas said: “The further we stray away from exact replica products, the less reliable the findings. Because the family had a fairly old TV model, we wanted to get a model as close to that as possible.
“We’re not suggesting in any way that the TV was at fault. It’s just about whether in rented properties there are appropriate fire alarms in place and, if they were fitted, what effect it would have.”
The team is seeking a 42 inch rear projection Samsung television belonging to one of the following models: HCM4216W, HCM4216H, HCM4215W, HCM422W or SP42W5HF.
Det Supt Thomas said: “If there’s somebody out there who has a TV that falls into these categories, it would a huge help to us.”
He said they would look for a way to compensate any owner willing to donate the television.
Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the hope is to stage the recreation later this month.
Det Supt Thomas transferred to North Yorkshire Police last summer, but stayed on the case.
“We do have different alternative plans [if the TV is not found], but what I didn’t want to do was miss the opportunity,” he said.
“I’m trying to do the best thing for the family and make sure that we’ve done everything we could.”
Anyone who can help is asked to call Huddersfield CID on 101, quoting 13160075908.