Fishermead Fire Inquest

21 June 2012, 16:14 | Updated: 22 June 2012, 12:30

An inquest's heard firefighters couldn't have done anything to save the lives of a mum and her three year old daughter killed in a house fire in Milton Keynes, but they could have recovered their bodies sooner.

A communication breakdown meant firefighters didn't realise Bola Ejifunmilayo and her daughter Fiyin (right) were still in their bedsit at 200 Fishermead Boulevard, Fishermead.

Their bodies weren't found til the day after the fire, in September 2010 because firefighters mistakenly thought everyone in the house had been accounted for.  This was as a result of communication problems between Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and Thames Valley Police.

The fire was started by Barbara Zhanje, 49, from Kettering, who was in another part of the house.  She had started the fire to get back at an ex-boyfriend.  Bola and Fiyin were upstairs and couldn't escape the flames.  Zhanje was jailed for 12 years in March 2011 for manslaughter.

The owner of the house, Lookman Adeyemi, from Bletchley, Milton Keynes, was jailed for four months in March 2012 for breaking fire safety regulations.

This was because he had failed to make sure people could get out quickly in the event of a fire, and for putting insufficient fire detectors and alarms inside the building.

At an inquest in Milton Keynes which ended on Thursday 21 June 2012, the Milton Keynes Coroner Tom Osbourne recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

Speaking to Heart after the inquest, Buckinghamshire's Deputy Fire Officer Adrian Crook said: "I'm very proud of my firefighters that attended the incident on the night.  They worked under severe conditions and did everything they could, placing themselves at risk.  One of the firefighters even fell through as the floor of the internal structure collapsed.

"We could not have saved the lives, as the Coroner said, but we could have recovered the bodies sooner, and professionally that hurts."

"It's fair to say there was some information that was lost during the incident which would have enabled us to recover the bodies earlier.

"There have been a number of learning opportunities that have come out of this incident and we have already put these in place with Thames Valley Police."