Ac­ci­den­tal ver­dict for ex­plo­sion deaths

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By WIL­LIAM SMITH news@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ @Peter­bor­ough­tel

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.”

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