Guest had to break glass with his bare feet and barely escaped alive with his young son after Europa fire that revealed ‘a number of failings’

The company that runs Europa Holiday Park at Woolacombe has been fined a total of £55,000 following a fire in which 'it was fortunate no one died'.

Woolacombe Beach Holiday Park Ltd pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court today (Friday) to six offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

It was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £15,500 costs relating to a number of fire safety failings exposed by a 'significant' fire in a sauna at the park on August 3 last year.

Director Graham Toms was also given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years when he appeared before the court today.

The court heard how during the course a fire at the clubhouse two staff members suffered burns and a guest, using the pool with his young son, had to break out of the building by using his bare feet to break the glass of a locked fire exit with only minutes to spare.

An investigation by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service revealed a number of failings including: Fire exit door locked and unable to be used in an emergency; lack of emergency escape lighting; failure to provide staff training in respect of the use of fire extinguishers and evacuation procedures; lack of a suitable emergency plan.

The investigation also found Mr Toms had failed to act on the findings of a fire risk assessment carried in 2009 which had identified several issues.

Business safety manager Paul Bray at the fire service said: "Mr Toms, a director responsible for fire safety at the premises, had been in the industry for many years and should have been well aware of what was expected and needed in respect of fire safety at the premises.

"He understood the need for a fire risk assessment, yet failed to comply with the requirements of the fire safety order by ignoring advice from those he had appointed to assist, putting lives at risk as evidenced by the actions and resulting injuries sustained by a guest and staff as a result of a fire on the premises."

He added: "This was a reckless breach of the law in relation to fire safety standards and it was extremely fortunate that no one died or were more seriously injured at the premises."

The fire service said it will always work with and support those businesses that take their fire safety responsibilities seriously but will not tolerate those that fail to carry out their duties.