Boy, 3, died in caravan blaze after hero dad thought he had rescued both his sons

Brothers Harley and Zac Harvey were staying with their dad for a sleepover weekend when an accidental blaze broke out in their caravan in the middle of the night

A three-year-old boy tragically died in a caravan fire despite the brave efforts of his dad to save him.

Zac Harvey was killed after an electric fan heater powered by an extension cable caught fire on 19 January 2020, an inquest heard.

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A heroic effort to save the boys

The toddler was staying at his father Shaun’s caravan for a sleepover with his brother Harley, then four, when the accidental blaze broke out in the middle of the night at Ffair-Rhos, near Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire.

Mr Harvey, 28, risked his life by battling through the smoke and flames in a desperate bid to rescue both boys.

He thought he had grabbed the arms of both Zac and Harley and headed to safety.

But once he was able to see, he discovered to his horror that he was only holding the arm and leg of Harley.

His brave actions managed to save the four-year-old and despite suffering severe injuries, he battled to try and rescue but the fire became too intense to save him.

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Harley and his dad were taken to hospital with horrific burns. It was thought the four-year-old would not survive after being in a coma, but has since made a full recovery.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire, which was accidental and is not believed to have been caused by the actions of any of the family.

Harley, left, and his brother Zac, right, were staying with their dad for a sleepover (Photo: SWNS)

‘I just fell to the ground’

Zac and Harley’s mum Erin, 28, spoke about the heartbreaking incident to the Real Fix podcast, which helps people share their own stories in their own words.

Erin, from Ffair Rhos near Pontrhydfendigaid, Wales, said: "Shaun had come out of the caravan, and he was holding Harley’s arm and Harley’s leg.

"He thought that he was holding both Harley and Zac.

"It wasn’t until he was out of the caravan and going into the house carrying Harley that he realised that it wasn’t Zac, it was just Harley.

"His family said that he tried to go back into the caravan to get Zac, but it was totally engulfed in flames by this point."

The fire ripped through the mobile home at around 5am during a weekend sleepover in January.

Erin, who co-parents with Shaun, woke up to missed calls from people who witnessed the accident and was told the police were on their way to her home.

Recalling the incident on episode seven of the podcast, she explained that she “fell to the ground” after speaking with a nurse.

She said: "I spoke to a nurse who told me that Sean and Harley were there and to wait at home.

“I asked ‘where is Zac’ and she said she wasn’t sure and the police were coming to speak to me. I just knew, I had a feeling.”

When the police arrived 40 minutes later, they told her that Zac had passed away.

She added: “Even though I knew it from when I spoke to the nurse, it was still a shock to hear the words.

“I just fell to the ground, and was just shouting and screaming and then all of a sudden there were just all these questions.”

Erin rushed to the hospital to be at Harley’s bedside and was told he had a slim chance of survival due to the extent of his burns, and he was in a coma.

Thankfully he pulled through and, to his parent’s surprise, remembered that his brother had died in the blaze.

Erin said: “Because of the burns and the damage to his lungs he couldn’t really speak but you could tell what he was trying to say.

“He woke up and started trying to shout ‘daddy’. It was really hard, just knowing that he must have been so confused.

“It was quite quickly that he said to me ‘Zac’s dead’. That was when it kind of hit me the most, hearing him say it.

“Hearing doctors and police and grown-ups saying it was totally different to hearing Harley saying it.”

Harley is now recovering well and is being supported by his family.

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