Dagenham arson victim returns to scene on ten year anniversary
- Credit: Archant
A teenage burns victim who suffered horrific injuries in a pub arson attack which claimed the lives of her young cousins has returned to the scene a decade, on calling for witnesses to help track down the perpetrator.
Vicky Knight, of Turnage Road, Dagenham, was one of five children sleeping above the Prince of Wales pub in Allen Road, Stoke Newington, when the blaze broke out in the early hours of July 27 2003.
Doctors induced a coma after third and fourth degree burns on 33 per cent of her body caused Vicky’s skin to fuse with her bones, and she has undergone skin grafts and operations every year since.
Her uncle Ronnie Knight and his wife Kate were running the pub at the time, and their son Charlie, five, died soon after he was rescued by firemen, along with Christopher, 10, Kate’s son from a previous marriage.
Pub regular, Ronnie Springer, 45, also lost his life after running upstairs to save the children.
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He lowered Vicky and her cousin Denise, 11, to safety from a first floor window but was overcome by heat and fumes and fell, dying six weeks later.
Joe Knight, Charlie’s brother, survived but still needs treatment for burns.
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Police found traces of an accelerant – possibly petrol or white spirit – and launched a murder hunt, but no-one was convicted in a manslaughter and arson trial in 2005.
Vicky, now 18 and studying health and social care at Barking and Dagenham College, returned to the scene July 27 along with friends and family to remember the fire’s victims and urge witnesses to come forward on the 10th anniversary.
She said: “It was nice to know people still remembered the boys and Ronnie.”
The fire has, she explained, changed her life in both a negative and a positive way.
“My charity Scar Quality came out of it and I’m helping other people deal with living with burns.
“But sometimes I get fed up and can’t be bothered to deal with it anymore, like not wanting to go out because of people staring at me and asking me what’s happened.”
Vicky’s mum Kim believes if the perpetrator is caught, her daughter may gain some closure.
She said: “We hope by bringing this back it may spark a memory that didn’t seem significant at the time.”