April 20, 2023 1.18 pm This story is over 14 months old

Cause of Ingoldmells caravan fire which killed two-year-old will never be known

Louisiana Brooke Dolan tragically died from smoke inhalation

The cause of a caravan fire in Ingoldmells which killed a two-year-old girl will never be known, an inquest has heard.

Louisiana Brooke Dolan died at the scene in Sealands Caravan Park, Roman Bank, where she was holidaying with her mum and three siblings.

The inquest heard that the fire on August 23, 2021, started within the boiler cupboard and quickly spread to cause extensive damage to 90 per cent of the hired caravan.

Louisiana, from Newark, could not be rescued and died from smoke inhalation.

The hearing in Lincoln on Thursday, April 20, was told that, despite extensive work by police and fire investigators, it could not be ascertained whether there was a fault with the boiler or combustible items nearby had caught light.

In evidence it was said that Louisiana’s mum, Natasha Broadley, had to contact the caravan owner on the night of the blaze because the gas-fired water heater would not light.

A relative of the owner attended at 9.55pm and lit the boiler with a long-reach lighter because the push button ignition was not working.

The fire broke out about half an hour later.

| Photo: John Aron

The inquest was told that the gas safety certificate for the boiler had expired five months earlier and there was no working smoke alarm. During the boiler’s previous inspection, it was noted that the push button ignition was out of order and it was recommended that it should be fixed.

However, it was not a requirement by law.

The boiler was so extensively damaged in the blaze that investigations proved inconclusive.

Skegness Fire station manager Karl Foxall told the inquest: “We put every effort into looking at every shred of evidence to find out what caused the fire.

“Unfortunately, we are still at the position where we can’t state it was the boiler or the items in the cupboard.”

He added: “It definitely started in the cupboard but we can’t say whether it was a fault with the boiler or radiated heat that ignited things.”

Det Chief Insp Jo Fortune, of Lincolnshire Police, said the lack of a conclusive cause meant any prospect of bringing criminal charges could not be pursued.

“We approached CPS in relation to the caravan owner and whether there was a culpability for manslaughter by gross negligence,” she said.

| Photo: John Aron

“We can’t say that there was a fault in the boiler that [the caravan owner] already knew about or should have had fixed.”

Louisiana’s maternal grandmother, Donna Broadley, said in an email read in evidence that the toddler was “the most cutest, funniest baby anyone would love to have”.

She added: “The final day she left us was the most amazing. She’d been to the beach, the fairground and to McDonald’s, eating her nuggets which she wouldn’t share!

“Sadly, this was her last day but she spent it doing what she loved and that is being with mum, brother and sister.”

Assistant coroner for Lincolnshire, Lindsay Tasker, said she had considered a conclusion of unlawful killing but the lack of evidence as to the cause meant that the only appropriate one was accidental death.

Natasha then said: “I’m not giving up.”

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