Young couple died in blazing cottage due to faulty wood-burning stove

A young couple perished in their rented cottage after a faulty wood-burning stove sparked a devastating blaze, an inquest concluded.

Child carer Jill Harrison, 22, and her partner Danny Earl, 25, died after a fire broke out in their living room on Easter Sunday last year.

An inquest in Cockermouth, Cumbria, heard Miss Harrison’s brother James only survived after climbing from an upstairs window onto the roof.

Horrified neighbours had to hold Mr Harrison back as he battled desperately to re-enter the burning house to save his sister and her boyfriend.

Child carer Jill Harrison (shown left) and her partner Danny Earl (right) died after a fire broke out in their rented cottage's living room on Easter Sunday last year

Child carer Jill Harrison (shown left) and her partner Danny Earl (right) died after a fire broke out in their rented cottage's living room on Easter Sunday last year

Child carer Jill Harrison (shown left) and her partner Danny Earl (right) died after a fire broke out in their rented cottage’s living room on Easter Sunday last year

Mr Harrison had to be restrained by horrified neighbours as he tried desperately to re-enter the house to save his sister and her boyfriend

Mr Harrison had to be restrained by horrified neighbours as he tried desperately to re-enter the house to save his sister and her boyfriend

Mr Harrison had to be restrained by horrified neighbours as he tried desperately to re-enter the house to save his sister and her boyfriend

The hearing was told the most likely cause of the fire was the wood-burning stove as it had eight faults, including a corroded flue, cracks in its casing, worn seals, and a broken fire board through which combustible material could fall.

The landlady of the property was in the process of arranging the stove’s repair or replacement, the inquest heard.

Ruling accidental death, coroner Kally Cheema said: ‘The fire started in the living room, and the most probable cause of the fire was a multi-fuel stove.

‘It was lit the previous evening and was still lit when James went to bed at midnight.

‘The stove had been examined on March 27 and had been condemned as unsafe to use.

‘The occupants and the landlady had been advised against its use due to a number of safety concerns that were raised.’

The hearing heard the mid-terraced cottage in the village of Knock, near Appleby-in-Westmorland, was a rented converted Methodist chapel

The hearing heard the mid-terraced cottage in the village of Knock, near Appleby-in-Westmorland, was a rented converted Methodist chapel

The hearing heard the mid-terraced cottage in the village of Knock, near Appleby-in-Westmorland, was a rented converted Methodist chapel

The hearing was told the most likely cause of the fire was the wood-burning stove as it had eight faults, including a corroded flue and cracks in its casing

Gillian Davidson, from Brighton, (pictured) confirmed she was the landlady of the property at the time of the fire and said she knew the stove had been condemned and shouldn't have been used.

Gillian Davidson, from Brighton, (pictured) confirmed she was the landlady of the property at the time of the fire and said she knew the stove had been condemned and shouldn't have been used.

Gillian Davidson, from Brighton, (pictured) confirmed she was the landlady of the property at the time of the fire and said she knew the stove had been condemned and shouldn’t have been used.

Jill Harrison

Jill Harrison

Danny Earl

Danny Earl

After the front door was briefly forced open, neighbour Stephen Charlton had to restrain Mr Harrison, who wanted to go in to rescue his sister (left) and Danny (right)

The hearing heard the mid-terraced cottage in the village of Knock, near Appleby-in-Westmorland, was a rented converted Methodist chapel.

At the time of the tragedy, only Danny Earl, Jill Harrison, and her brother James were living there.

The night before the blaze, Jill and James Harrison returned home after a family visit at 8pm, joining Danny in the living room, where they watched TV and ate pizza.

The inquest was told at midnight, Mr Harrison woke in the living room, realising the other two had gone to bed and that the stove was still alight.

Without touching the stove, he turned off the TV and went to bed, leaving the living room door open so the stove’s heat could spread.

Upstairs, the family’s pet dog came out of Jill and Danny’s room, so Mr Harrison took it into his room to stop it wandering. Then he went to sleep.

Neighbours described rescuing Mr Harrison from the roof with a ladder after he clambered out through the bedroom window

The inquest was told at midnight, Mr Harrison woke in the living room, realising the other two had gone to bed and that the stove was still alight

The inquest was told at midnight, Mr Harrison woke in the living room, realising the other two had gone to bed and that the stove was still alight

The inquest was told at midnight, Mr Harrison woke in the living room, realising the other two had gone to bed and that the stove was still alight

Mr Harrison told the inquest: ‘I woke up because I heard Jill scream. I heard her scream ‘fire’, but I didn’t hear anything else after that. I didn’t hear Danny at all.

‘I came out of my bedroom door and there was just a wall of flames. I just shut the door again.’

Neighbours described rescuing Mr Harrison from the roof with a ladder after he clambered out through the bedroom window.

Neighbour Jan Allison recalled how he pleaded with them to go into the house to find his sister and Danny. But the cottage was full of thick black smoke.

‘It was just too dangerous,’ said Mrs Allison. The fire was ferocious, she said. ‘It was just a terrible situation.’

Mrs Allison said she then heard smoke alarms going off in her home and realised she had not heard any alarms going off inside the Old Chapel.

After the front door was briefly forced open, neighbour Stephen Charlton had to restrain Mr Harrison, who wanted to go in to rescue his sister and Danny.

Some neighbours used garden hoses on the fire but to no effect whatsoever.

Fire crews arrived at around 2am to find the house engulfed in flames. 

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said in a statement: ‘It was obvious there was no way crews could enter the property due to the intensity of the fire.’ 

Today, Gillian Davidson, from Brighton, confirmed she was the landlady of the property at the time of the fire and said she knew the stove had been condemned and shouldn’t have been used.

She said: ‘They are all [the family] aware of what my reaction is. It’s just terrible, appalling. There aren’t words are there for what has happened?’

After the front door was briefly forced open, neighbour Stephen Charlton had to restrain Mr Harrison, who wanted to go in to rescue his sister and Danny

After the front door was briefly forced open, neighbour Stephen Charlton had to restrain Mr Harrison, who wanted to go in to rescue his sister and Danny

After the front door was briefly forced open, neighbour Stephen Charlton had to restrain Mr Harrison, who wanted to go in to rescue his sister and Danny


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