Sleeping couple lucky to be alive after fire ripped through Lancashire marina

Damage: St Mary's Marina was left severely damaged
Damage: St Mary's Marina was left severely damaged
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A man and woman were lucky to escape alive after fire broke out in the boatyard they were sleeping in.

Now the owner of St Mary’s Marina faces a £13,000 fine after allowing them to sleep in the vessel while it was in the workshop at the Rufford marina.

Vic Fitzell, 69, pleaded guilty to three health and safety breaches, accepting he did not conduct a proper risk assessment before allowing boat owners to sleep.

Judge Stuart Baker, sentencing, said: “The risk would have been obvious.”

On May 13 the battery compartment of the boat caught fire, causing widespread damage to the boat and the workshop.

When firefighters arrived it was not obvious the couple had managed to escape unharmed and crews had to enter the building - which contained propane gas canisters and flammable materials - to search for potential casualties.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager John Buck who attended the fire said: “This fire had the clear potential to result in loss of life or serious injury, both to the owners of the vessel and to the firefighters who took significant risks to ensure that everyone had escaped from the fire.

“All this could have been prevented had there been the correct procedures in place and the relevant fire safety legislation had been complied with .”

The couple were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation but the boat and the workshop were gutted as the blaze took hold.

Judge Baker accepted Fitzell, of Moss House Lane, Much Hoole had been doing a misguided favour in allowing the couple to sleep on board.