A HOUSE blaze which claimed the lives of a young couple was caused by a faulty wood-burning stove with eight separate faults.

Child care assistant Jill Harrison, 22, and her partner Danny Earl, 25, died after a fire broke out in the living room of the rented cottage where they were living in the early hours of April 1.

Miss Harrison’s brother James, who also lived in the house, survived after escaping through an upstairs window.

An inquest in Cockermouth heard harrowing evidence.

After being rescued, James Harrison had to be restrained by neighbours as he tried to get back into the burning house at Knock, near Appleby, to save his sister and her boyfriend.

The cottage involved was a converted Methodist chapel, rented out to Miss Harrison’s father. At the time of the tragedy, only Danny Earl, Jill Harrison, and her brother were living there.

The night before the blaze, Jill and James Harrison returned home after a family visit at 8pm, joining Danny in the living room, where they watched TV and ate pizza.

At midnight, James woke in the living room, realising the other two had gone to bed.

The stove was still alight. Without touching the stove, he turned off the TV and went to bed, leaving the living room door open so the stove’s heat could spread.

Upstairs, the family’s pet dog came out of Jill and Danny’s room, so James took it into his room to stop it wandering. Then he went to sleep.

“I woke up because I heard Jill scream,” he said. “I heard her scream: 'Fire', but I didn’t hear anything else after that. I didn’t hear Danny at all. I came out of my bedroom door and there was just a wall of flames. I just shut the door again.”

Neighbours described rescuing James from the roof after he clambered out through the bedroom window.

Neighbour Jan Allison recalled how James pleaded with them to go into the house to find his sister and Danny. But the cottage was full of thick black smoke.

“It was just too dangerous,” said Mrs Allison. The fire was ferocious, she said. “It was just a terrible situation...”

She heard smoke alarms going off in her home, and realised she had not heard any alarms going off inside the Old Chapel.

After the front door was briefly forced open, neighbour Stephen Charlton had to restrain James, who wanted to go in to rescue his sister and Danny.

Some neighbours used garden hoses on the fire but to no effect whatsoever. Fire crews arrived to find the house engulfed in flames.

A senior fire officer said: “It was obvious there was no way crews could enter the property due to the intensity of the fire.” Flames were leaping from the roof windows. Cumbria Fire Service station manager Ian Seel investigated the blaze. There were no working smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors in the house, he said.

The most likely cause of the fire was the wood-burning stove. It had eight faults, including a corroded flue, cracks in its casing, worn seals, and a broken fire board, through which combustible material could fall.

Coroner Kally Cheema ruled the deaths were accidental, adding: “The fire started in the living room, and the most probable cause of the fire was a multi-fuel stove which we know was lit the previous evening; and which was still lit when James went to bed at midnight.

“The stove had been examined on March 27 and had been condemned as unsafe to use. The occupants and the landlady had been advised against its use due to a number of safety concerns that were raised.”

Miss Harrison and Mr Earl died from smoke inhalation.