Accidental verdict for explosion deaths
A MAN from Peterborough, who survived a blast at a factory where illegal vodka was being made, is still receiving treatment for his injuries almost a year later an inquest has heard.
Lithuanian national Rytas Gecas (25), from Peterborough, suffered extensive burns in the explosion at the industrial unit in Broadfield Lane, Boston, Lincolnshire, on July 13 last year.
His five Lithuanian-born colleagues, Erlandas Duzinskas (19), Vaidas Krupenkinas (39), Laimutis Simkus (32), Ovidijus Mejeris (26) and Ricardus Gecas (24) all died from the toxic fumes in the blast.
Maureen Taylor, coroner for Boston and Spalding, recorded a verdict of accidental death into the five deaths at an inquest at Spalding Magistrates’ Court yesterday. She gave the cause of death as inhalation of fire fumes.
Lincolnshire Police are still investigating how the blaze started but the inquest heard that the most likely cause was a cigarette, a spark from which may have caused the toxic vapours which had built up in the unit to ignite.
Ian Woods, deputy divisional officer from Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, told the hearing that smoking materials and debris accidental death: The scene of the explosion at an industrial unit in Broadfield Lane, Boston. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DANIELS.
were found in significant quantities near the seat of the fire.
Mr Gecas, who gave evidence through an interpreter, said the men regularly smoked while they worked.
Mr Woods said the heat in the unit would have increased by several degrees following the blast and anyone inhaling the smoke and vapours would have had a “rapid demise” within minutes.
No smoke alarms were fitted in the unit.
The inquest heard thick black smoke was pouring out of the building when ambulance crews arrived at the scene.
Mr Gecas, who had been working at the factory for just two weeks putting tops on the bottles, was treated at the scene for severe burns before being taken to hospital.
The five others were pronounced dead at the scene after being overcome by the smoke and fumes inside the building.
High levels of alcohol were found in the bloodstreams of three of the men - Krupenkinas, Mejeris and Simkus. Krupenkinas and Simkus each had 143mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood while Mejeris had 106mg in 100ml of blood. The UK drink-drive limit is 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.
Recording her verdict, Miss Taylor said: “Vapours arising from their illegal activities were easily flammable. But despite the dangers, they all smoked while working.
“I don’t know how the fire started, whether it was from a cigarette, who smoked that cigarette, or where.”