Boy, three, dies in caravan blaze and his brother, four, is left fighting for life


A three-year-old boy died in a caravan blaze and his brother, four, is now fighting for his life after they went for a weekend sleepover with their father who could only save one of them from the flames. 

Father Shaun Harvey, 28, bravely rescued his four-year-old son Harley from the inferno but the flames, which broke out on Sunday morning, were too strong for him to reach his three-year-old son Zach.

Neighbour Miriam Connolly, 54, and her husband Sean saw Mr Harvey desperately trying to get back into the caravan to reach his little boy in the village of Ffair-Rhos, near Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire. 

Mrs Connolly, who was woken by Mr Harvey’s shouts and a plant pot being thrown at her window, said: ‘They kicked the fence down to come to us for help. It was horrific.

Father Shaun Harvey (pictured with son Zach), 28, was unable to reach his three-year-old son Zach in the caravan blaze in the village of Ffair-Rhos, near Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire

Father Shaun Harvey (pictured with son Zach), 28, was unable to reach his three-year-old son Zach in the caravan blaze in the village of Ffair-Rhos, near Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire

Zach was found dead inside the caravan following the blaze

Zach's four-year-old brother Harley (pictured with Zach and mother Erin Harvey) is being treated in hospital

 Zach (left and right with with brother Harley and mother Erin Harvey) was found dead inside the caravan and his four-year-old brother Harley is now in hospital with burns 

‘He was carrying his eldest boy in his arms, the poor tot had no eyebrows left.

‘His father was in his underpants and the skin had been burned off his neck, shoulders and back.

‘He’s had tried so hard to get back into the caravan to reach his other little boy but it was an inferno.

‘It went up in a matter of seconds.’ 

Mr Connolly, 55, said: ‘Shaun was screaming: ‘My boy’s dead. My boy’s dead. I’ve killed my boy.

‘I was telling him that no one had killed anybody – but he was in such a state.

‘The caravan went up like a tinder box, we were trying to reassure him he did everything he could to save his child.

‘We ran a cold bath for him and his little boy, they were both in extreme pain.

‘They asked for potato peeling which are supposed to be good for burns.’

Shaun Harvey saved his eldest son from the fire, but could not save the youngest

Mr Harvey saved his eldest son (pictured) from the fire, but could not save the youngest

Erin Harvey (pictured) frantically rang locals in the remote village asking where her youngest son was after he died in a fire

Erin Harvey (pictured) frantically rang locals in the remote village asking where her youngest son was after he died in a fire 

Mother Erin Harvey, 28, was told her ex-husband and Harley were in hospital after the blaze in a remote country village.        

Locals told how Erin rang them in a state panic asking what had happened to her youngest child.

Next-door neighbour Mrs Connolly said: ‘I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her little boy had died.

‘It is so tragic, he was such a lovely little boy who loved coming to stay with his dad at weekends.

‘I told her to get in touch with the police – it’s so heartbreaking.’ 

Tree surgeon Mr Harvey was living in a caravan in his stepmother’s garden after breaking up with the boys’ mother last August.

The three were asleep in the caravan at 5am on Sunday morning when a blaze broke out from a suspected electrical fault.

Pictured: The scene after the blaze engulfed a caravan, killing the three-year-old and leaving a four-year-old fighting for his life

Pictured: The scene after the blaze engulfed a caravan, killing the three-year-old and leaving a four-year-old fighting for his life 

Mr Harvey and Harley were taken to hospital in Aberystwyth and Harley was later flown by air ambulance to a special burns unit in Bristol where he is in a critical condition with his mother Erin at his bedside.

One of Erin’s neighbours in the nearby village of Pontrhydfendigaid, said: ‘She’s not had much luck over the last few years and now she’s got to deal with this awful tragedy.

‘Erin’s a good mother who is devoted to her boys. She’s with Harley in hospital and we are all praying he pulls through.’

Erin also has a nine-year-old son from a previous relationship.

Mr Harvey was transferred to a burns unit in Swansea where he is in a stable condition.

Mr Connolly said: ‘Shaun is a lovely guy, he’s always got time to have a chat, He loves those boys so much.

‘They were a nice little family unit, we would hear him playing with the boys in the garden.

‘I know they were running an extension cable from the house into the caravan and that’s what the police and fire service are looking at.’

Pictured: A cordon blocks off the scene in Ffair-Rhos, where a father frantically tried to save his sons but lost one child

Pictured: A cordon blocks off the scene in Ffair-Rhos, where a father frantically tried to save his sons but lost one child 

Another neighbour said: ‘The whole village is in shock, it’s not the type of thing that happens here.

‘But this is a close-knit community where people look out for each other and we will be there for the family.’

Forensic officers and a fire investigation team have been sifting through the gutted remains of the touring caravan to discover what started the fire. 

A major incident room was also set up at 15 miles away in Aberystwyth where police are asking for information about what they described as a ‘highly traumatic incident’. 

Today Dyfed Powys Police said they had scaled down their inquiry into the blaze which they now say is not suspicious.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We are continuing to investigate the circumstances around a fire at a caravan in Ffair Rhos, Ceredigion in which a three-year-old boy sadly died.

‘The father and a four-year-old child remain in hospital.

Dyfed Powys Police said they had scaled down their inquiry into the blaze and now say it is not suspicious. Pictured General view of the village of Ffair-Rhos

Dyfed Powys Police said they had scaled down their inquiry into the blaze and now say it is not suspicious. Pictured General view of the village of Ffair-Rhos

‘Specialist officers are supporting the family at this traumatic time.

‘Police and Fire investigators continue to examine the scene though the circumstances are not currently being treated as suspicious.

‘We would like to speak to anyone who was in the Ffair Rhos area around the time of the fire, who might have information that could help the investigation.’ 

Previously Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed CID officers were called into the inquiry because of the nature of the fire.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell said: ‘We received a call at 5.35am today about a caravan on fire in the village of Ffair-Rhos.

‘Inquiries so far lead us to believe that three people were inside the caravan at the time the fire broke out.

‘These were a father and two children – a four-year-old, and a little boy who we believe to have been aged three.

‘While the father and the eldest child were able to get out of the caravan, the younger of the siblings was tragically found deceased inside.

‘Our thoughts are with his family at this extremely difficult and traumatic time, and specialist officers have been put in place to support them.

‘The father is currently in a stable condition in hospital, while the four-year-old is critical but stable. Both suffered burns.’   

Chief Supt Cockwell added: ‘This was a tragic incident, and we will be doing all we can to find answers for the family, whose world will have been torn apart by this morning’s events.

‘We are also working closely with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service who were in attendance when our officers arrived.

‘We would like to thank our colleagues at the fire service for their professionalism in dealing with what turned out to be a highly traumatic incident.

‘We would like to speak to anyone who was in the Ffair Rhos area around the time of the fire, who might have information that could help our investigation.’

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, using Storm reference 39 of January 19.



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