A POLISH builder died when the converted barn he was living in burned down.

An inquest into the death of Boguslaw Szylak, 49, held at Scarborough Rugby Club on Friday, heard that he was staying in the annex despite its owners having been issued with a council enforcement notice in 2009 prohibiting anyone living in the building, as it was against its planning permission.

The inquest also heard from witnesses in the fire service and building control who said that the annex did not meet a number of fire safety standards.

The inquest heard from David Lumley, employer of Mr Szylak and owner of Potter’s Lodge in Marton where the barn is located, and also from John Lumley, David’s son and fellow director at the family building firm DJ Lumley Ltd.

On the night of the fire, on July 16, 2017, just after 11pm, John’s then-partner Alexandra Ennis had been the first to see the fire.

Giving evidence, Ms Ennis said that she had heard no smoke alarm, though David Lumley said the annex had had two.

John said that, while Ms Ennis called the fire service, he attempted to gain access to the barn, climbing to the roof and smashing a window. “Thick smoke bellowed out,” he said. “I tried to put my head in but it was unbearable.”

Robert Harper, from North Yorkshire Building Control, carried out an inspection of the scene after the fire and found “a number of concerns”, from the Velux window in the bedroom where Mr Szylak died, which was too small to act as an escape window, to how “readily” the building burned.

He added that the building work hadn’t been registered. “There is a duty to apply for approval of building work,” he said.

“There’s also a duty to inform the local authority of certain stages of work so it can be ascertained whether building regulations have been achieved. There was no record of this - an application hadn’t been made.”

Mr Szylak had a wife and son in Poland. A statement from his wife Bernarda said he was working in Ryedale and sending money home.

A post-mortem examination by Dr Peter Cooper found that Mr Szylak died of smoke inhalation.

David Watson, a fire safety officer at the time, was asked to investigate the incident. He said that the cause of the fire was thought to be an electrical fault in a fridge freezer.

Recording a conclusion of misadventure, coroner Richard Watson said that “if there had been compliance with the planning enforcement notice then Mr Szylak would not have died” - but added that more relevant were the breaches of building regulations. He said that the work converting the barn to living accommodation had been done “without regard to fire safety”.

He added: “If the proper measures for escape had been available in the building Mr Szylak would have survived. There was a lack of proper escape route. It seems clear the fire spread very rapidly.”

But he also paid tribute to John Lumley’s efforts to get into the building when it was ablaze. “It’s not an easy task to face a building that is so horrendously on fire,” he said.