Chip pan caused fatal fire

Craig Westhorp
Craig Westhorp

A FATAL fire that ripped through a family home killing a young man was caused by an overheating chip pan.

The investigation into the tragic blaze that claimed the life of 20-year-old Craig Westhorp has now ended.

Police and fire officers visited the charred shell of the semi-detached home in Formby Close, Hartlepool, and found that the flames had started in the kitchen before quickly engulfing other rooms.

Their detailed analysis put the blame on a chip pan that had been left to overheat and spark the fire at 5am on Monday, May 30.

Craig’s brother, 17-year-old Reece, and his step-dad, Andrew Sutherland, were also in the house at the time, but were able to escape.

His mum, Paula Sutherland, was away on holiday in Spain while his seven-year-old sister Sharne was staying at a relative’s house on the night.

A spokesman for Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “The fire brigade investigation into the Formby Close fire has been completed and has found that it was an accidental house fire caused by an unattended chip pan.”

The fire brigade carry out a host of awareness projects throughout the year about the danger of cooking with half of all accidental house fires starting in the kitchen.

They have carried out a “ban the pan” campaign to stop people using chip pans as hot oil can quickly catch fire and spread.

A “stand by your pan” campaign is ongoing, urging people to never leave the hob while cooking.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family.”

Flowers have been laid outside the house while neighbours have been fundraising to help the family, who described Craig as a “gentle giant” and “devoted son”, through their ordeal.

The Mail told how a group of youngsters from the estate went door-to-door asking people to put money into a shoebox they had decorated themselves with the message ‘have a heart’.

An inquest has been opened and adjourned into his death and it is expected to be concluded at Hartlepool Coroner’s Court later this month.

His funeral is taking place at 1pm on Monday, June 6, in St John Vianney Church, in King Oswy Drive, prior to internment in West View Cemetery, in West View Road. The family say all are welcome to attend.