Squatters Died in House Blaze
May 28, 2011
Squatters Died in House Blaze Source: Evening Mail; Birmingham (UK) Publication date: 2011-05-26
Birmingham, UK — TWO Polish men died when a fire engulfed a row of derelict Birmingham buildings they had been squatting in, an inquest heard.
Marek Ratuszniak and Arkdiosz Chylarecki, who were both aged 30, single and unemployed, died when the blaze broke out in the bedroom of a house in Moseley Road, Highgate.
Det Insp Wayne Jones, based at Harborne police station, told Birmingham Coroner’s Court some of the boarding had been torn away from the dilapidated property, which was completely gutted in the fire.
He said homeless people stayed there and, after a fire broke out in the early hours of July 20 last year, Mr Ratuszniak was found in an upstairs bedroom and Mr Chylarecki was in the loft.
Denis Gabrysch told yesterday’s inquest he shared a room with Mr Ratuszniak, where he said flames took hold among piles of clothes and the mattresses they slept on.
He said he spent the day before the fire with Mr Ratuszniak drinking and both men had gone to bed by about 3am.
He woke up when he felt the heat from the flames and slapped his room-mate in the face to wake him up. In an earlier statement Mr Gabrysch told police: “I’m shouting in Czech ‘fire’ but he did not respond as he might have been too drunk.”
Mr Gabrysch said he tried to pull Mr Ratuszniak out of his bed and then ran out of the room to alert other people.
He later attempted to return to the room to save Mr Ratuszniak but the flames and smoke kept him from reaching the staircase.
Former fire investigation officer Martin McCabe said the fire could have been caused by a discarded cigarette or candles.
At the height of the blaze, eight fire engines were at the scene.
In the days following the fire, searches were carried out to check for any remains of other people, Mr McCabe added.
Sarah Elaine Ormond-Walshe, the assistant deputy coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, adjourned the inquest for toxicology evidence to be confirmed.
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