Sent in by John Flynn
I came across this newspaper story in the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald a few years ago, while trying to find my genealogy. If you want to check it first you can, you can also add it to the memory lane section, as all the people that they talk about are dead including my father who is the baby.
J J Flynn
Mon 4th 1934
The House on Fire
Two Lives Lost
Early last Sunday morning a Catastrophe happened in CaernarfŰn, when an occupied house was burnt to ashes, and a girl's life was lost in the fire.
The house was
Mr J.Pentir Williams (The
The Coroner explained that the main facts regarding the events to the death of Rhiannon, and her Grandmother, Mrs Jane Anne Flynn. He said after examining the bodies that they were very badly burnt.
The Father's Testimony
The first testimony was John James Flynn, the father of this little girl and the son of the deceased. Mrs Flynn said that he was employed as a lorry driver for the Jays furniture Company. He identified the bodies as his daughter and mother. He described the events of Saturday night and Sunday morning. On the Saturday night he arrived home 10 o'clock to find that the occupants had gone to bed, except his wife and Betty Owen, a girl of twenty yrs old, whom they had adopted. After supper he sat down to listen to the radio, and at about midnight he decided to go up to bed. There were two small bedrooms in the house. He slept in the front room with his wife and baby (John James Flynn). His mother and three daughters, Jane Anne Flynn, Nellie Flynn, Betty Owen, and Rhiannon Flynn, slept in two beds in the back bedroom. The next thing that he remembered is his wife (Janet Flynn) shouting, "Smoke! There's smoke in this room!!". She rose and went into the back bedroom. The witness said that he grasped the lamp that was in his bedroom, and went downstairs. At the top of the stairs he extinguished the lamp, he then decided to ascend the stairs. Half way down the stairs collapsed underneath him. "I opened the front door and shouted for help" he said "Then I heard somebody screaming, FIRE! I rushed back into the house and opened the parlour door. I saw that the room was ablaze". The witness added that he was going to run up the stairs with the intention of opening the front window, but his wife had done this already. He couldnít see anything because of the smoke. The first person he rescued was Betty Owen, who had by now had gone to the front room. He lowered her to the arms of William Jones, a neighbour, who was also a policeman. His eldest daughter Nellie was next, at the same instance his wife went to rescue the baby. When it came to lowering his wife she fainted on the windowsill. He knew that his mother was still in the house. After rescuing his wife and child he decided to go back into the house. He saw his mother leaning against the windowsill, when he was about to clutch on to her, she slipped out of his hands and fell down into the street below. On rushing to the bedroom door with the intention of escaping that way, he found that it was impossible. So he returned to the window, this is the time he felt he floor falling from underneath him. He jumped down into the street and went to aid the police as best as he could.
When he referred to his daughter, Rhiannon, he broke down and cried, the whole time he thought that she had been rescued and was safe. Nobody could get into the house after.
Coroner: -"Did you have two lamps in the house?"
Witness: -"Yes, one in my room and one in my motherís"
Coroner: -"After you woke up was your lamp alright?"
Witness: -"Yes, my wife said that it was alight at that time"
On answering further questions the witness said that he was sure that there wasnít a fire in the back kitchen. The last thing he did every night was to that the fire in the fireplace was extinguished. They found that the fire started in the parlour, there hadnít been a fire in the fireplace for years.
On closing the father said that they had gas in the house, but so far as he knew, they had not ignited the pipes at all.
The Policemanís Testimony
The next witness was Hugh
Roberts a policeman from Caernarfon. He passed
The witness added that the Fire Brigade had to wait for half an hour before they had enough pressure. It was important for the Police to do everything that they could to save the residents.
Coroner: -"Did you see the Fire Brigade connecting their pipes?"
Witness: -"No, they had difficulty in getting water"
Coroner: -"Do you know the CaernarfŰn Water Foreman?"
Witness: -"Yes, but I didnít see him arriving"
Sergeant Thomas said that he
was in the Police Station about twenty past three on Sunday morning and that
Policeman Roberts had told him about the house on fire in
When they called on Mrs Parry, custodian of the Guild Hall, the town clerk (Mr John Williams) representing the public, asked to approach her. He told her the purpose of the Inquest was determining the cause of death. The Town Council was going to hold an investigation of their own, about other matters that arose.
The Coroner realised that it would be ridiculous to investigate the cause of death because that was obvious. He said that the Inquest would be held for the public. If he were one of the CaernarfŰn's inhabitants, he would surely be interested that the fire bell was effective or not.
Town Clerk: -"Iím objecting"
Coroner: -"Well Iím going to hear what the Fire Brigade has to say first"
Mrs Parry said that you could
hear the Fire
Coroner: -"Did you know how to use them?"
Witness: -"Yes, I did"
Coroner: -"You hadnít had any permission to use them?"
Witness: -"No, I hadnít"
In reply to the Town Clerk,
Mrs Parry said that it was twenty past four that the young man came to ask her
to sound the Fire
The Town Clerk told her that the Policeman had testified that it was twenty past three.
The Coroner and The Fire Brigade
The Coroner said that he was of the opinion, that it would be in the interest of the Town Council, to publish everything.
"We will hold your official investigation," said the Town Clerk "in a meeting, but a public investigation this will be, on matters which are of grave importance for the public. Two lives have been lost. Iím not that the Fire Brigade didnít do their best, but they have a duty to the public to explain what they did. Many grave accusations have been said. Maybe everything is all right, but in the Policemanís testimony an hour had past before the Fire Brigade were in place. They had been standing for half an hour before they had enough water. Maybe there is a sufficient reason for this, but I think it would be of interest for the CaernarfŰn's Corporation, that they will do everything in their power to avoid such a catastrophe in the future if possible."
The Captain of the Fire Brigadeís Testimony
Robert Jones, the Captain of the Fire Brigade, said that the electric fire bells had been installed in the Firemenís houses since four months. But they had had difficulties in getting the proprietorís permission to install them.
The Coroner said seeing that the Corporation were going to build council house of their own, he hoped that they would make the effort to house the Firemen as near to each other as possible.
Coroner: -"What time did you arrive?"
Witness: -"We were installing the hydrants at about five to four. There was a shortage of water, and to save time I sent for a Fire Engine to call on the Water Foreman. Through working on the valves in different places we managed to raise the water pressure. But the scene was impossible when we arrived."
The Reason for the Shortage of Water
One of the jury asked what was the reason for the delay in getting enough water. The witness replied that the water was turned off every night. He couldnít understand why they had to do this. Thereís plenty of water in the Town for any reason.
Jury: --"Just say that a fire broke out tomorrow would you be in this turmoil again?-If the valves were open would everything be alright?"
The Coroner noticed that the local jurisdiction had advised to stop wasting water. The Town Clerk suggested that the witnessís statement was wrong. "We have the same water pressure day and night," he said.
William Roberts, the Water Foreman, he went down the "Maes" Sunday morning and found that one of he Fire Hydrants was broken. He managed to restore the pressure in a few minutes.
The Coronerís Comments
In closing the Coroner said
that he disagreed with the times that they had enough water. Maybe in future
they will make use of the electric Fire Bells. "It appears,"
he said "that the lives would have been saved if the Fire Brigade had
arrived there sooner." He paid tribute to the behaviour of the
neighbours. The Policemen and the Fire Brigade played their part. The
The Coronerís Verdict
After hearing all the testimonies the jury passed that the cause of death was "Accidental death by being burnt."
The Coroner gave his condolences to the bereaved family.