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Neighbours of Hornchurch house fire speak of their shock

PUBLISHED: 13:27 06 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:03 06 February 2017

A firefighter and police officer outside the property in Laburnum Avenue, Hornchurch, the scene of a fire. Photo: Ann-Marie Abbasah

A firefighter and police officer outside the property in Laburnum Avenue, Hornchurch, the scene of a fire. Photo: Ann-Marie Abbasah

Archant

Neighbours have spoken of their shock at the death of a woman following a house fire in the early hours of today.

Residents of Laburnum Avenue, Hornchurch, watched as four fire engines and 21 firefighters tackled a blaze in a mid-terraced house.

A woman was pronounced dead and two men were taken to hospital in a critical condition.

A woman who lives opposite saw the events unfold.

“It was about 4.30am when I looked at the clock,” she said.

“I watched the firemen bring them out. I was compelled to watch, willing them to do everything they could.”

An elderly man, is said to live in the property.

“He has not been well,” continued the neighbour.

“Different people at different times [have been staying with him] but I didn’t think anyone was there. I thought things had improved a bit.

“He has lived there a long time. I think he is retired and in his 60s or 70s.”

Valerie Newman and Jeffrey Prendergast, who live a few doors down from the house said they “heard all the sounds”.

Ms Newman said: “He did his back in and had all his family there backwards and forwards. They were coming and going – and a district nurse.”

Mr Prendergast added: “There were lots of firemen in the drive. I saw stretchers going in there [the house].”

Mr Prendergast continued: “The police wouldn’t tell me anything. They just said it wasn’t a gas explosion.

“He is a very pleasant sort of guy. He keeps himself to himself. I think his wife died some time ago.

“It is tragic. There was smoke billowing out the windows.”

A police officer at the scene said the cause of the fire is still being investigated.

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