Heartbroken dad ‘living in pain’ since fire killed his kids, wife and mother-in-law

A dad who lost his two children, wife and mother-in-law in a devastating house fire has admitted he’s ‘living in pain’.

The blaze tore through the family’s semi-detached house after the flame of an oil lamp ignited combustible materials.

Nagrasani Vasanthrajah, 60, Niruba Yogan, 29, Tavishan Yogan, four, and Sasnaa Yoga, 23 months, all died in the fire with an inquest finding that they were killed by inhalation of smoke and toxic fire fumes.

The family had been celebrating a Sri Lankan festival at their home in Bexleyheath, London, on November 18, 2021, which saw them place oil lamps around the house to bring light to dark places.

While the family had gone upstairs to pray the flame from a lamp placed in a downstairs cupboard ignited materials causing the fire to spread into the downstairs hallway and consume the staircase.

According to the only survivor, a male relative, when they first smelt smoke they believed it to be coming from the lamps so started to put them out. It was only when the man saw the fire downstairs that they realised where it was coming from.

The man was able to escape the fire by jumping out onto the garage roof, injuring himself in the process.

The other four family members were unable to escape the flames as their natural route of escape down the stairs was made impossible as it was engulfed by the flames.

The man was seen trying to help those still inside to safety but was unable to. A neighbour also tried to help by kicking in the door downstairs but he was blocked by the smoke.

Mrs Yogan managed to call her husband, who had been at work at the time, but was only able to scream down the phone. He then rushed back to the family home as quick as possible.

All four of those killed were found together in the rear bedroom. One adult and a child were found near the window while the other adult and child were found by the door.

The scene was attended by the Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service whose attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful.

The husband and father of the woman and children killed, Yogan Thangavadivel, was in court where his statement was read aloud. In his statement he said: “I don’t even know where to start. How do you explain such a big loss? I can’t believe they are all gone and I don’t know how I will ever recover from this.”

Speaking of his wife he said: “You gave me the whole world. All these years with you and our family was the best years of my life.” He added: “The pain and sorrow will always live with me.”

Mr Thangavadivel said his daughter was the cutest baby who would stare at you with her big gorgeous eyes. He said: “She was always smiling. She would love playing with other people.” He added that she will “always be daddy’s little girl.”

Speaking of his four-year-old son he said he was a happy and cheerful boy who didn’t sit even for a bit.

He said: “Every morning going through my camera roll I have videos of him and his big laugh. His sly way of creeping up on you and laughing. My son just before he passed away got a certificate from school. All I wonder is what he could have been.”

He said: “I will miss the days where I would come back from work and they would come running.” He added: “It hurts my heart to know I will never get to see both their smiles again.”

Speaking of his mother-in-law he said she took the place of his mother who died in 2012. He said: “I am deeply heartbroken. I wish that no one experiences this pain in their life and it ends with me.

“I cannot even write this without breaking down. Rest in peace my wife, babies and mother-in-law until we meet again.”

The events that led to the devastating fire were outlined by London Fire Brigade Sub-Officer Peter Guppey. The fire was found to have started from a flame in the cupboard below the stairs.

The fire was fuelled by items stored under the stairs such as unknown timber and textiles and items including a hoover.

The flame melted the rubber sheeting of the main electric cables which then caused a hole in a gas pipe. This was another source of fuel within the small area that would have aided the fire in the consumption of the staircase.

Once the fire spread from the cupboard under the stairs, it was further fuelled by multi-layered paint on timber work and multi-layered wallpaper that included flocked paper in the downstairs hallway.

The chemicals from the smoke and burning materials would have rendered those in the house very disorientated and into a drowsy state. The thickness of the smoke could also have caused areas to be in darkness.

Coroner Edmund Gritt concluded that the cause of death for all four family members was inhalation of smoke and toxic fire fumes caused by an accident. In his summary he concluded that “this was a loving and close family” and that the two children were deeply loved by their parents.

He said to the family: “I’m so very sorry, I know nothing that can be said will make the slightest difference but I’m very grateful for the extremely powerful statement you gave All my condolences to you.”