Broken sprinklers cited in fatal fire inquiry

Last updated 11:32 20/12/2012
the Weekes triplets
TRAGIC LOSS: Triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, who were killed in a mall fire in Qatar in May.

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Faulty sprinklers failed to put out the Doha mall fire that took the lives of 19 people in May, including two-year old Kiwi triplets, a court has heard.

A trial to find the people responsible for the Villagio mall fire is underway, and Civil Defense officials and a firefighter have been interviewed as witnesses today.

A government-led investigation earlier this year found the fire was caused by a faulty electrical wiring in a fluorescent light in a Nike store, which was next door to the day care centre where triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher were based.

The triplets had just turned two, and were going to childcare three times a week.

According to Doha News, one officer said sprinklers would have stopped the smoke, but they were broken.

They said officials failed to get in touch with fire alarm and sprinkler system companies when they requested to perform maintenance on the fire prevention equipment.

In addition to the broken sprinkler system, the mall was consistently fined for having decorations coated in highly-flammable paint.

“The officers asserted that the chemical, coupled with smouldering clothes from the Nike store, was the cause of the heavy smoke that spread to the nearby play area, asphyxiating 13 children, four teachers, and two firefighters trying to save them,” said Doha News.

Civil Defense officers said firefighters were not properly trained to handle the fire.

So far, the hearing has been postponed four times before all defendants turned up to court, and the witness testimony will start up again early in the new year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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