In February 2008 some of the occupants of a four storey house that had been divided into flats were forced to flee over the roof of 9 Hillsborough Terrace, Devon, where they lived, due to a fire.
Joseph Ernest Draper, who owned the building at the time of the fire, was found guilty of four offences under the Fire Safety Order 2005. As a result of this conviction Mr Draper was ordered to pay £135,000 in fines and a total of £23,000 in costs.
Devon and Somerset fire investigators carried out a safety audit after the fire occurred. The audit found that the fire had started on the ground floor and was able to spread from this area into the escape route as the door giving access to the ground floor flat was not adequately constructed against fire, allowing the spread of fire into the escape route.
It was also found that three doors were not fitted with self closing devices. Had they been fitted with such a device the spread of fire would have been prevented.
Devon and Somerset area manager, Nick Manning, hoped that this conviction would give a clear message to all landlords of flats and that the heavy fines awarded in this case would encourage others to ensure that they did not breach the Fire Safety regulations.