July 21, 2008
‘Excessive Aerosol Use’ Caused Blast That Left Girls Badly Burned
By Steffan Rhys
AN EXPLOSION which left four teenage girls critically ill in hospital for several weekswas caused by the "excessive use of a large number of aerosol deodorants", an official inquiry will announce today.
A joint investigation was launched by Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid and West Wales Fire Service after the fire, which blew the roof off a terraced house in Llanelli on December 17.
Afile was also submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, who have decided there is insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for causing the fire.
But an action plan will now be launched to warn young people of the dangers of aerosols.
Sisters Anya, 15, and Kira Evans, 14, and Kimberly Patterson, 15, and Nadine Fardon, 14, were severely burnt when the fire tore through the sisters' home in Old Castle Road.
Stunned neighbours reported at the time how the girls ran screaming into the street after the explosion which closed the entire road.
The teenagers spent weeks in intensive care, underwent 10 major skin graft operations-some of which lasted up to a day at a time - had surgery to their hands, arms and legs and were treated for burns on their faces.
They received occupational therapy and physiotherapy, and psychologists were on hand to offer emotional support to the teenagers and their families.
They were also put on special diets, while doctors said it is likely they will need further operations in the future and will continue to be treated on an outpatient basis until they are 18 or 19.
The girls were unable to walk for more than a month after the accident, and Kimberley's mother, Katrina, told how she burst into tears when she saw her daughter walk again.
"I wasn't expecting it and I started crying - I was overwhelmed," she said.
They were gradually eased back into their lessons at Coedcae Comprehensive School and volunteers in Llanelli raised thousands of pounds towards a fund for the girls and their families.
In a joint statement released today, Dyfed-Powys Police and the fire service said: "The investigation concluded that the cause of the fire was as a result of the excessive use of a large number of aerosol deodorants in a confined space being accidentally ignited.
"The use of the aerosols led to the accumulation of flammable gas and vapours in a bedroom without sufficient ventilation.
"The ignition source was a cigarette lighter.
"Following a full investigation, Dyfed-Powys Police submitted a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.
"The CPS has instructed that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute any person.
"Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service would like to warn people of the dangers of aerosols.
"We are working together with local agencies in a bid to prevent this type of tragic incident from happening in the future.
"Educating young people about the dangers and potential consequences of inappropriate use of aerosols will form part of future community safety education programmes.
"The four girls have now been released from hospital. Their families have asked the media to respect their privacy."
Mark James, chair of the Carmarthenshire Community Safety Partnership, said: "The partnership is committed to raising awareness of the dangers of volatile substances such as the inappropriate use of aerosols.
"These are also highly flammable so great care must be taken in their day-to-day use, particularly in confined spaces. Parents needto be vigilant about excessive use and we all need to make our children aware of the dangers of misusing aerosols.
"Talks are already given to young people and as part of the partnership's joint commissioning strategy for substance misuse, an action plan for children and young people will be developed to include additional ways of tackling this important concern".
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