Mother who lost toddler in Skegness caravan fire campaigns for stringent safety checks

A mother is campaigning for better safety checks after a holiday to Skegness turned into a nightmare when her two-year-old daughter died in a caravan fire.

Natasha Broadley lost her little girl, Louisiana Brooke-Dolan, in the blaze at Sealands Caravan Park, Lincolnshire in August 2021.

The caravan had no smoke alarms and its boiler certificate had expired by five months.

Now, she’s taking the fight to Westminster as part of her campaign to tighten caravan safety laws.

While an inquest found the fire had started in a cupboard where the boiler was kept, no one was prosecuted for Louisiana’s death, nor was anyone held accountable.

Natasha Broadley saved her other three children in the caravan fire but lost her two-year-old daughter in the incident. She is now campaigning to make safety checks on boilers essential.

Image: Natasha with Louisiana

Ms Broadley, from Newark, Nottinghamshire, was left “really angry” following the ordeal and said: “It’s crazy that the legislation isn’t in place already.

“If I’d have known that our caravan didn’t have smoke alarms and the boiler wasn’t maintained, I wouldn’t have stayed there.”

The 35-year-old mother, who now has three children, noticed something amiss with the boiler when she got to the caravan. There was no hot water and the family were unable to take a shower.

Someone finally came to repair the fault after a few days, and on that evening, Ms Broadley and her other daughter, 11, went for a shower together.

Louisiana was tucked in on the sofa playing with her mother’s phone. That was the last time Ms Broadley saw her toddler.

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A choice ‘that will haunt me for the rest of my days’

While in the shower the mum started to smell smoke.

She said: “By the time I got out of the bathroom, there was thick powdery smoke and we couldn’t see anything.

“I managed to get three of my kids out, but I couldn’t find Louisiana. It was pitch black and all I could do was feel around the caravan to try and find her, but she wasn’t where I left her.

“I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see and I could hear my kids screaming hysterically for me outside the caravan and in that moment I had to make a choice.

“It’s one that will haunt me for the rest of my days.

“I died there. I died looking at my children… I couldn’t look at them.”

Ms Broadley and her other children managed to reach safety, but Louisiana perished in the fire.

Natasha Broadley saved her other three children in the caravan fire but lost her two-year-old daughter in the incident. She is now campaigning to make safety checks on boilers essential.

Image: ‘I died there. I died looking at my children… I couldn’t look at them.’

She said she felt “sick” and had a “panic attack” after Lousiana’s autopsy report was read out to her, and a police officer also informed her that her daughter’s body had been removed out of the caravan “in bits and bobs”.

The caravan had burned to “a shell” within seven minutes.

The mum said: “If I ended up in there for 20 more seconds, police said I wouldn’t have got out with my [other] daughter.”

‘I just want her to make a change’

Ms Broadley remembered her final day as a family of five, taking Louisiana to the fair as she enjoyed ice creams and doughnuts.

She said she wants her toddler’s death to “make a change”.

Natasha Broadley saved her other three children in the caravan fire but lost her two-year-old daughter in the incident. She is now campaigning to make safety checks on boilers essential.

“I don’t want families to cancel their holidays because that’s what we live for – to take children away,” she said.

Natasha is determined to change the law around smoke alarms and boiler safety certificates in caravans, despite the verdict from the court saying they could not rule what caused the fire for certain.

She met up with the MP for Newark, Robert Jenrick, to introduce compulsory 12-month gas checks in the vehicles.

Mr Jenrick said: “The law is clear that if you are renting out a caravan or any kind of holiday home you need to follow basic fire safety procedures, which includes having a working fire alarm, it also includes having a gas safety certificate.

“We want to ensure this doesn’t happen again… that’s why Chris Philp the fire minister agreed to endorse our campaign to ensure that all of those owners of caravans and chalets are doing their duty, checking their smoke alarms, checking their gas safety certificates as they are required to legally, and if we can ensure that happens then we should hopefully prevent tragedies like this from happening again in the future.”

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