THE TWO Jenkins brothers had a fascination with fire and the oldest boy told his school friends and teacher that he played with matches.
Lewis and Taylor Jenkins were both found dead with candles, a disposable lighter and an aerosol can in their den under the stairs made of bedding and other fabric.
Mark Hobbs, fire investigation officer at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said the blaze started under the stairs in the den and it was most likely caused by the boys playing with fire.
Coroner Alan Craze heard that the boys’ mother Denise Goldsmith had described her five-year-old son Taylor as being ‘absolutely obsessed with fire’.
Ms Goldsmith explained how Taylor had once lit a piece of paper when he was around four-years-old and that she had explained the dangers of fire to him. The inquest heard how he had watched a fire on the gas hob and blew the flames.
She said, “He was about four, four-and-a-half years-old when that started. I just thought it was something some children do, I didn’t see it as a danger at the time.”
Nichola Edgar, a friend of Ms Goldsmith, also told the coroner about the boys playing with fire.
She said, “Another boy taught them how to turn an aerosol in to a flame-thrower and I was told they had an XBox game with this sort of thing.”
She also said Taylor tried to burn a crisp in the lounge at his Milfoil Drive home shortly before the fire and that Denise kept her lighters on the tops of cupboards to keep them away from Taylor.
However, there were several lighters found around the house after the fire. There was one in the boys’ den and another just outside.
Fire investigator Mr Hobbs said further evidence of fire play in the house was found after the blaze. Mr Hobbs found a burnt lolly stick and two burnt cigarettes and an unburnt match within the boys’ bedrooms.
Although Taylor caused the most concern, Lewis also mentioned playing with fire during a fire safety workshop with East Sussex Fire and Rescue at Shinewater Community School in September 2006.
Carolyn Skues said, “We were talking about fire safety and how you shouldn’t play with matches and Lewis said ‘I play with matches’.”
Ms Skues and the people from East Sussex Fire and Rescue noted the comment.
Ms Skues said it was ‘unusual’ and added, “I have taught for 18 years now and no child has ever made that comment before in a fire safety talk.”
• Anyone concerned about fire setting is asked to call East Sussex Fire and Rescue on 03039991009.
The line is free, confidential and open to adults and children. Information is also available at www.esfrs.org