Man battles for life in hospital unaware that wife and two children were killed in mystery house fire
34-year-old Gavin Collison is critically ill and fighting for his life after the fire, completely unaware that his wife and two children did not survive the tragic incident
A man is fighting for his life at a hospital after a fire engulfed his home but is unaware that the same fire claimed the lives of his wife and two children. The fire that ripped through a residence in Collingham, near Newark, Nottinghamshire, claimed the lives of 33-year-old Justine Collison, eight-year-old Isabella, and five-year-old Harvey.
The 34-year-old father, RAF engineer Gavin, was pulled out of the blaze by emergency rescue services and rushed to the hospital for treatment, where he is expected to pull through. The fire also resulted in the death of the family's golden retriever, with only Justine's mother, 53-year-old Diane Fletcher, escaping unscathed, at least physically.
A friend of Justine, a special needs teaching assistant, confirmed to the Daily Mail that Gavin was in a critical condition and unaware that the rest of his family had died in the blaze. "Gavin is still critically ill and hasn't yet been told that his family has died. Justine's mum survived without a mark on her but will be emotionally scarred forever," the friend said.
The tragic accident was confirmed on Facebook by family friend Lisa Ball, who set up a fundraising page to raise money for the slain mother and children's funerals.
"It is with a heavy heart I am setting up this official fundraising page for Justine Isabella and Harvey who were sadly taken away from us on Saturday 15th December 2018," she wrote. "They sadly lost their lives due to a house fire at their home in Collingham, Newark."
She said any funds raised would go to Gavin and Diane to help pay for the funeral and to support the family, and the community responded in spectacular fashion. The £20,000 ($25,272) goal set for the fundraiser was met within days, with donations now passing £22,000 ($27,800).
As the donations continued to pour in, Lisa said she was "blown away by everyone's kindness," and that the "community of Collingham have been amazing beyond words," adding that everyone has been "shocked & affected by this horrible nightmare."
"To everyone that has sent messages & made donations we cannot thank you enough," she wrote. "As you can imagine we have been preoccupied with current events & supporting our beloved Gavin & Diane. Thank you to each & every one of you for your love support & donations from the bottom of our hearts. The support we have received has been overwhelming & amazing."
While it is unclear what caused the fire, the speculation is that it could have been sparked by either dry needles from the family's Christmas tree being ignited by the heat from decorative lights or a faulty oil-fueled radiator that firefighters later extracted from the home.
However, police have not commented on a possible cause yet, with a spokesman for the Nottinghamshire Police saying, "As yet we have still not established the cause of the fire. Our investigation with Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service is ongoing."
He added, "There has been complete speculation about the cause but we cannot say at this stage what happened. Nothing has yet been ruled out."
Devastated pals, who are among 1,050 people supporting the funeral fund, described Justine as a "ray of sunshine" with a "pure heart of gold". Messages of condolences have also been left in a tribute book at the family's village church and a local shop has a donations pot on the counter.
The school the siblings attended also paid heartfelt tributes.