Tributes to father feared to have died with several of his children in Llangammarch Wells blaze

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Tributes have been paid to a father who is believed to have died alongside several of his children when a blaze ripped through a farmhouse in rural Wales.

Neighbours said David Cuthbertson, who was known as Dave, "doted" on his children and lived with them at the remote property at Llangammarch Wells, Powys.

A neighbour raised the alarm shortly after midnight and three children, aged 13, 12, and 10, managed to escape unharmed but police say "a number of people" are missing.

Police said there had been fatalities but due to the severity of the damage they were unable to confirm how many people had been killed.

Graphic: Press Association

Ron Birchall, 73, who lives at the former Aberceiros Inn in the village, said: "He was a great guy. All I can say is that he was a great father who loved his kids and doted on them."

Mr Birchall said he had known Mr Cuthbertson since he first moved to the village 15 years ago.

"We have been living here since 2002 and when we arrived he was living in a village a couple of miles away and then he year or so later he moved to the village," he said.

"I used to see him walking around the village or in his vehicle. We saw the kids coming to pick up the bus to school."

Mr Birchall said he and his wife Rosemary knew nothing about the incident until they woke in the morning - even though around 20 emergency vehicles had parked at the pub.

"The village is devastated. We didn't realise anything had happened in the early hours and we didn't know anything until we got up at 6am," he said.

"We live quite close and didn't hear a thing until this morning. We just couldn't believe it."

Mr Birchall said Mr Cuthbertson was separated from his partner who had moved away after suffering a stroke.

"The village people are devastated and just can't believe it. I've seen on the news the extent of the fire and it is just a shell," Mr Birchall said.

"Very, very sad."

County Councillor Tim Van-Rees, who represents the area, spoke of the community's shock at the devastating loss of life.

"I knew the family, not well, and I knew the father and several of the children," he said.

"They were a large family, although I am not sure how many were living there.

"It is absolutely shocking and a devastating blow and it is possibly just as well we are in half-term at the moment because the effect on our children and the schools would have been very severe.

"I have spoken to the owner of the property who was alerted and telephoned the fire brigade and I must say as a member of the fire authority the local fire brigade were outstanding.

"Speaking on behalf of the community our thoughts and prayers will all those affected. The community will come together and do all it can for the surviving children and relations."

Chief Superintendent Richard Lewis, of Dyfed Powys Police, said the three children who escaped were being treated in hospital but do not have life threatening injuries.

"However, there are a number of people unaccounted for at this time and we can confirm that there are known to be fatalities," he said.

"Due to the severity of damage at the scene we are unable at this stage to identify any of the deceased or to confirm the number of deceased.

"Specialist scientists and fire investigators are still assessing the scene and at this time we are treating the cause of the fire as unexplained.

"Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."

Dai Hancock, from the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "On arrival the attending crews were faced with a very difficult situation and did all they could in the circumstances to resolve this.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and residents of Llangammarch Wells following this tragic incident within their community."

Kirsty Williams, Lib Dem AM for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: "This is devastating news in such a close-knit community.

"I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to those affected and thank the emergency services for their assistance."

Chris Davies, Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: "My thoughts are with those affected by the reported fire in Llangammarch.

"I wish the emergency services well in dealing with this terrible situation."

See full story in the County Times

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