South East Wales

Heater link to Aberdare fire death of Emily Harris, 18

Fatal house fire Abernant, Aberdare
Image caption The severity of the blaze at the house in Abernant, Aberdare, led to parts of the building collapsing

A fire which killed a teenage girl while she was house-sitting for her grandparents may have been caused by an electric heater, an inquest has heard.

Emily Harris, 18, died at her grandparents' house in Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf as she looked after their pets while they were on holiday.

Investigators believed clothing was left too close to the heater as she slept.

Coroner Andrew Barkley recorded a verdict of accidental death.

An inquest into Miss Harris's death in Aberdare heard she had spent the night of 17 October, 2013 with friends at pubs in the town and returned home alone at midnight.

Electric heaters

Her friend Gabriella Davies told the hearing Miss Harris was "not falling down drunk and was just a bit tipsy".

Seven hours later neighbours saw flames rising from the first floor of the detached house.

Firefighters spent two hours tackling the blaze and part of the house later collapsed.

Miss Harris's death was caused by smoke inhalation and burns, the hearing was told.

Fire investigator Andrew Sargeant said the fire was likely to have been caused by one or more of the electric heaters being placed too close to clothing, or because clothing fell on one of the fires.

Coroner Andrew Barkley said: "It is highly probably that the fire started in the bedroom where Emily was found, either by an electric fire or halogen heater coming too close to something."

The former Aberdare Girls' School pupil was training to be a childcare worker and had just passed her driving test.

Head teacher Jane Rosser described her as a "delightful pupil" who always had a smile on her face.

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