THE cause of the fire at Cameron House Hotel was identified just five months after the fatal blaze, according to reports.

The BBC has reported that independent forensic scientist Andrew Wade was called in by police in May 2018 to investigate how the fire started.

Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson died in the devastating fire at the luxury hotel on the shores of Loch Lomond on December 18, 2017.

According the BBC’s report, Mr Wade examined CCTV footage – later released to the public by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – and visited the site, and concluded that the fire began after hot embers were placed in a concierge cupboard.

READ MORE: CCTV footage shows the moment fatal Cameron House Hotel fire took hold (warning: contains content that may upset some readers)

But more than two and a half years passed between Mr Wade's investigation and the day the details of what happened were revealed to survivors and the wider public.

The information eventually emerged when the hotel's night porter Christopher O'Malley admitted a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act at a hearing in Dumbarton Sheriff Court in December 2020 – but a further month passed before restrictions on the reporting of the case were lifted.

The hotel’s owners were fined £500,000 in January after pleading guilty to breaches of fire safety regulations.

Mr O’Malley, who placed the embers in a plastic bag which he then put in a cupboard next to kindling and newspapers, was spared prison, but was given a community payback order and told to carry out unpaid work as a punishment.

At the conclusion of the case the hotel’s owners issued an apology for “a fire that should never have happened”.

According to the BBC’s report, a decision on whether to hold a fatal accident inquiry into the fire is expected to be taken later this month.

A COPFS spokesperson said: “COPFS appreciates the impact the time taken to conclude investigations can have on those involved and we are committed to resolving them as soon as we can.

“We maintained regular contact with the nearest relatives of Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson and are satisfied that our communications were appropriate having regard to the welfare and wishes of those involved.

"The convictions and sentences in this case were the culmination of a thorough and technical investigation carried out by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, West Dunbartonshire Council and Police Scotland, overseen by the Health and Safety Investigation Unit of COPFS.”

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