Shocking moment fire breaks out at five-star Loch Lomond hotel that killed two guests as night porter who caused blaze after he emptied hot ash into cupboard full of newspaper avoids jail and owners are fined £500,000 over safety failings
- Christopher O’Malley accidentally sent the Cameron House Hotel up in flames
- He put a bag of hot ash into a cupboard containing combustibles like newspaper
- On December 18, 2017, the fire killed Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38
Dramatic footage shows the moment a devastating fire broke out in a five-star hotel before laying waste to the whole building and killing two guests.
CCTV captures staff trying to fight the flames in the reception of Cameron House Hotel on December 18, 2017 and comes as the night porter who caused the blaze was sentenced.
Christopher O’Malley, 35, was spared jail but ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work for accidentally starting the fire by emptying hot ash in a plastic bag into a cupboard full of newspaper.
Just three days earlier he had been told not to use the plastic bags and, in an August audit, fire experts had highlighted the combustibles inside the cupboard as a risk.
The resulting fire that gutted the hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond killed guests Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, from London by way of smoke inhalation.
Today Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd, owner and operator of the hotel was fined £500,000 after admitting fire safety failings.
The resulting fire gutted the hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond on December 18, 2017
Christopher O’Malley, 35, was spared jail but ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work for accidentally starting the fire on December 18, 2017
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service crews battle with hug flames coming from the old part of Cameron House Hotel
Guests Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, from London were killed by way of smoke inhalation
The owner admitted failing to take the fire safety measures necessary to ensure the safety of employees and guests between January 14, 2016 and December 18, 2017.
It admitted two charges of breaching the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 on January 22 and had its fine reduced from £750,000 because of the early guilty plea.
O’Malley, 35, admitted breaching Sections 7(A) and 33(1)(A) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on December 14, which relate to the obligation on an employee to take reasonable care for the health and safety of people affected by their acts or omissions at work.
He was sentenced to a community payback order on Friday, supervised for 18 months, with 300 hours of unpaid work.
More than 200 guests were evacuated from the building during the fire, including a family of two adults and a child who were rescued by ladder and taken to hospital. They were later discharged.
Sentencing O’Malley, Sheriff William Gallacher said: ‘Your acts on December 18 caused a fire to start in a cupboard in Cameron House Hotel.
‘The fire developed from that cupboard and spread to many parts of the building, which had to be evacuated.
‘Some guests managed to do that with relative ease, some found it more difficult crawling along corridors to avoid smoke, others had to be rescued by ladder, no doubt some of those who experienced these traumatic events will be affected by them for a long time to come.
‘Two others were unable to escape from the fire and, as a consequence of inhaling smoke and fire gases, tragically lost their lives.’
Footage of staff trying to fight the flames in the reception of Cameron House Hotel was released today
The moment a devastating fire broke out in a fire-star hotel before laying waste to the whole building and killing two guests has emerged
More than 200 guests were evacuated from the building during the fire, including a family of two adults and a child who were rescued by ladder and taken to hospital
He said he was imposing work in the community as an alternative to custody.
‘That’s not an attempt by the court to diminish what happened and the tragic loss of life,’ he said. ‘It’s rather in recognition that it was not remotely in your contemplation that anything you did on December 17 or 18 would have led to the catastrophe which in fact ensued.’
Sentencing Cameron House Resort, Sheriff Gallacher said it was ‘unacceptable’ that the hotel operators did not act on previous advice from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to remove combustibles from the cupboard.
He added: ‘I do not consider that the company simply disregarded advice and recommendations but that they were translated or interpreted wrongly or incompletely.’
Victim Simon Midgley’s mother, Jane Midgley, carries a photograph of him and second victim Richard Dyson as she arrives at Dumbarton Sheriff Court
Today Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd, owner and operator of the hotel was fined £500,000 after admitting fire safety failings
The London-based company also failed to keep the cupboard that contained potential ignition sources free of combustibles and maintain and empty metal bins used for the storage of ash and embers
Sheriff Gallacher also said it was unacceptable that advice from fire experts to develop written procedures for dealing with ashes and embers was not followed.
He said: ‘Such a course could have been undertaken very easily. Had that been undertaken then much of what happened on December 18 could not have occurred.’
The London-based company also failed to keep the cupboard that contained potential ignition sources free of combustibles and maintain and empty metal bins used for the storage of ash and embers.
Relatives of the victims, including Mr Midgley’s mother Jane, were in court for the sentencing hearing.
At the court hearing on January 22, Peter Gray QC, representing Cameron House, said the failings were not deliberate breaches but occurred ‘as a result of genuine errors’.
He said an absence of formal procedures for dealing with ashes and embers gave staff the opportunity to improvise, and he added the resort extended its ‘deepest sympathies’ to the families of Mr Midgley and Mr Dyson.
A decision on whether a fatal accident inquiry will be held into the tragedy is yet to be made.
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