Llangammarch Wells tragedy: Prime Minister hails 'brave' and 'professional' 999 crews called to Powys blaze

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Theresa May has praised the "bravery and professionalism" of the emergency services who were called to deal with a fire in rural Wales that is believed to have claimed the lives of a father and five young children.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Mrs May described the fire, which broke out at a farmhouse in Llangammarch Wells, Powys, in the early hours of Monday morning, as a "tragic case".

Dyfed-Powys Police said five children aged between four and 11 and one man were unaccounted for and believed to have died in the property.

A neighbour raised the alarm shortly after midnight on Monday and three children, aged 13, 12, and 10, managed to escape unharmed.

The man who died has been named locally as David Cuthbertson, who was known as Dave and thought to be in his 60s.

Neighbours said he "doted" on the children.

Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire Chris Davies asked if Mrs May would join him "in sending our sympathies to the family of the bereaved and also to the villages and the town of Llangammarch", along with praising the work of emergency services who dealt with the "appalling tragedy with true dedication and professionalism".

He said: "Earlier this week in Llangammarch Wells in my constituency a horrific farmhouse fire claimed the lives of a father and five young children.

"This has had a devastating effect, not just on the family but on the tight-knit community that surround it."

Mrs May said she was sure everyone across the House would wish to send condolences to the family and friends of those affected.

"This was indeed a terrible tragedy that took place and as he said it isn't just the family themselves that have been affected by it but the local community," she said.

"I know that the emergency services did sterling work and I am also pleased to commend the work that they did and their bravery and professionalism in dealing with this issue."

Mrs May said Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns had spoken to the police and would remain in touch over the coming days

She added: "Our emergency services do do an amazing job protecting us, we see this in so many instances, they never know when they are going to be called out to such a tragic incident."

Mr Cairns also referred the fire at the start of the questions to him during Oral Questions.

He said: "Before I answer the first question I would like to convey the thoughts and prayers of the whole House to the family and community in Llangammarch Wells, following the tragic fire earlier this week."

On Monday Mr Cairns said he was "shocked" by the incident and had offered Dyfed Powys Police support where possible.

The force has said investigators are unable to identify those who have died in the fire at this stage due to the severity of damage at the scene.

The surviving children are being supported by family members and police officers, while a fundraising page set up to help the family has so far raised more than £13,000.

There is also a collection bucket in the nearby Post Office and a clothing collection has been set up by Seven Sisters RFC in Neath.

Police are treating the cause of the fire as unexplained.

Family friend Mary Ann Gilchrist told the BBC: "It has been a horrific, horrific shock, particularly when it involves so many children. Devastating."

She described Mr Cuthbertson as a "loving father" and added: "His children are all sweet, intelligent and I'm sure he was very proud of them."

Parish priest the Rev Petra Beresford-Webb said the book of condolence and an area for lighting candles at St Cadmarch's Church in Llangammarch was a space for people to go for silence or to write.

"It is absolutely horrific and nobody can quite get to grips with coming to terms with it yet," she said.

"It is terrible. The good thing that the community have is each other and they are very, very close in Llangammarch.

"It means that everyone is pulling together and helping each other which is really important."

Ms Beresford-Webb said the tragedy had also affected surrounding towns and villages and that people had been collecting clothes and money.

She said: "These small communities are really, really feeling it but obviously Llangammarch is feeling it, well we just can't describe it."

Dyfed Powys Police said fire investigation officers had remained at the scene on Wednesday and would continue to do so.

A spokeswoman said: "As senior investigating officer, DCI Martin Slevin, stated yesterday the nature of this fire was so intense, the scene presents significant difficulties in respect of the recovery of any remains, and assessments of the scene, and this will take some considerable time.

"But the investigation is ongoing and we continue to treat the cause of the fire as unexplained."

See full story in the County Times

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