Poison gas kills family of three in Camborne
A close-knit community has been left devastated after an elderly couple, their daughter and her dog were killed by suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.
John Cook, 90, his wife Audrey, 86, their daughter Maureen, 46, and her dog, Jannie, were all thought to have succumbed to a build up of the deadly gas at their caravan home in Camborne.
It is the fourth death this month believed to be related to carbon monoxide, known as the silent killer. The body of a St Ives woman was found at her home with her three dogs little more than a week ago.
Meanwhile a tragedy was averted in Somerset when four people were hospitalised suffering from inhalation of what firefighters said were "extremely high levels" of carbon monoxide.
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In the Cornwall tragedy on Saturday, emergency services were called to Tremarle Home Park, North Roskear, just before 1pm when a helper who called regularly knocked on the door but was unable to get a response.
Firefighters had to break down the door after reportedly being able to see a member of the family sitting in a chair in the front room.
No one from the emergency services would yesterday disclose the possible cause of the poisoning in this case. Carbon monoxide occurs when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood do not burn fully.
Yesterday, flowers were being placed at the gates of the neat caravan's well tended garden and neighbours spoke of their shock at the deaths.
Julie Boon, 55, summed up the feelings of many. "The whole community is in shock. We are just devastated," she said. "I have known them for 20 years. They were lovely people, really nice people.
"I saw them on Thursday and everything was fine with them."
Linda Barr, 84, who lives opposite the Cook family home, became tearful when she recalled a "lovely family."
"I knew them quite well and they were really nice people," she said. "John hadn't been very well recently and was keeping indoors a bit more and Audrey was just a lovely lady.
"I used to see Maureen out with her dog every day. It's so sad what has happened. This is a close knit community here and people will really take to heart what has happened.
"Everyone is just shocked that all three of them have gone like that."
Margaret Holmes, 65, who lived near the couple and their daughter, said: "They had lived here for around 40 years and they kept themselves to themselves.
"I just can't believe this has happened, it is so sad and I am so shocked, I think we all are, you just don't expect this sort of thing to happen on your doorstep.
"Everyone will miss them, we used to chat a lot when we were both in the garden."
Cornwall Councillor Jude Robinson, who represents the area, was yesterday visiting residents of Tremarle Home Park urging them to get free home safety checks available through the fire service.
The Labour councillor said she had often stopped and chatted to Mr Cook when visiting the site. "A lot of people knew the family and are really distressed," she said.
"This is a nice quiet place to live and it's a close knit community where this loss will be very deeply felt."
Inspector Gareth Twigg said police were still trying to trace the family's next of kin.
"Formal identification of the bodies of two women and a man found at the property has yet to take place," he said.
"Officers were called to the scene after concerns were raised for the welfare of three people known to live at the property.
"I can confirm the women were aged 86 and 46 and the gentleman 90. A dead dog was also found at the scene.
"We are at an early stage of the investigation and are not treating the deaths as suspicious. It's obviously a very tragic situation."
Carbon monoxide poisoning led to four people being taken to hospital late on Saturday after firefighters were called to Longforth Road in Wellington when an alarm activated.
Crews arrived to find one person outside the property vomiting from the effects of inhaling the gas and analysis of the building revealed what was described as "extreme high levels of carbon monoxide."
Less than two weeks ago, 60-year-old guest house owner Gill Adams and her three dogs were found dead at her home in Bedford Road, St Ives, in what is believed to be a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
In December 2010, a faulty grill emitting dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide was blamed for causing the deaths of Richard Smith, 30, and Kevin Branton, 32, at their home at Woodlands Terrace, Saltash.
The Department of Health estimates about 40-50 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning every year and a further 4,000 attend hospital casualty departments suffering from the effects of the gas.