Blackburn hostel owner fined after fatal fire



The owner of a hostel which was the scene of a fatal fire has been fined for breaching safety regulations.

Preston Crown Court heard that the Devonshire Hotel, Bridge Street, Blackburn, had not had an appropriate fire evacuation procedure on or before a date in November 2008 when a middle aged resident died.

However, the Crown did not say that the failure had any direct link to the death of Paul Barker - he had apparently been smoking when a smoldering fire arose in his bedroom.

Owner of the premises, Sajed Hussain, 33, also of Bridge Street, pleaded guilty to breaching an article of the regulatory Fire Safety Order 2005.

He was fined £3,000.


Joe Hart, prosecuting, told the court:

"It is impossible to say if the evacuation had been speedier, whether Mr Barker would have survived”.

“Accordingly, the Crown cannot say there is a causal link between the failure admitted and his death.”


On the morning of November 21st 2008, a fire alarm was heard, but the evacuation that followed had been confused and disorganised, said Mr Hart.

The procedure was simply not appropriate.

There was no roll call, no assembly point, no immediate evacuation and no immediate call to Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

Michael Scholes, defending, said there was an evacuation procedure.

He said the defendant had asthma and he had put his own life at risk, entering a smoking and smoldering room in an effort to rescue Mr Barker.

Since then, a good deal had been spent on improving the premises, including the alarm system. There was now CCTV in place, the court heard.

Judge Stuart Baker said Mr Barker's death highlighted the danger other residents were exposed to.


After the hearing, Watch Manager John Cairns from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said:

"Premises providing sleeping accommodation such as hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, houses of multiple occupation and care homes must make fire risk assessment a high priority as the risk of people being hurt or injured in a fire are much greater when they are asleep”.

"Recent statistics have shown that occupants are six times more likely to die in houses of multiple occupation fires than the average dwelling”.

"The public have a right to expect that anywhere they visit provides the requisite level of safety, particularly where they have paid to sleep or are in care at the premises."