Neighbours of Hornchurch house fire speak of their shock

A firefighter and police officer outside the property in Laburnum Avenue, Hornchurch, the scene of a

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

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“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.

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“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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