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Fire crews lose fight to save woman

PUBLISHED: 15:54 20 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:35 03 March 2010

FIRE claimed the life of a woman in Suffolk today – despite the best efforts of fire crews who administered emergency first aid.

Firefighters pulled the woman unconscious from her mid-terrace house after a blaze broke out in the front room in the early hours.

FIRE claimed the life of a woman in Suffolk today – despite the best efforts of fire crews who administered emergency first aid.

Firefighters pulled the woman unconscious from her mid-terrace house after a blaze broke out in the front room in the early hours.

Today the crews involved in the desperate bid were being offered counselling as fire investigators combed through the severely damaged house to discover what caused the "rare" fatal fire.

Assistant divisional officer John Wilcock, the Bury-based senior firefighter in charge of the incident, said two fire crews from Mildenhall and Brandon were on the scene in the High Street, Lakenheath, within minutes of receiving a call shortly after 12.30am.

When it soon became clear that someone was on the house, a further crew from Methwold in Norfolk and an ambulance were called to assist. In all 15 firefighters were involved in dealing with the blaze.

Wearing breathing apparatus, two firefighters tackled the flames in the downstairs room while two others went upstairs, where the woman was in bed, said ADO Wilcock.

She was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for ten minutes while the fire crews waited for the ambulance to arrive. The woman, who has not been named, later died in hospital.

The fire was under control an hour later, although crews remained at the scene until 2.30am.

The woman's landlord, who had shared a drink with the victim an hour earlier, told fire crews she was inside the house.

ADO Wilcock said: "This is a tragedy and our thoughts go out to the woman's family.

"We have been carrying out what we call a 'hot debrief' of all the crews involved. I have spoken to the crews and told them to keep an eye on the less experienced ones and we will be doing a welfare check on all our crews.

"Fortunately we don't get many fatal fires in the county. Deaths in homes are now actually quite rare thanks to the fire service's community safety programme about educating people about fire safety issues in the home."

Today neighbouring properties in the row of five houses off the main street remained quiet. They were undamaged by the blaze.

Curtains were drawn as those who lived next door to the scene of last night's drama caught up with sleep and came to terms with the tragedy.

One High Street resident was too shocked to talk at length about the fire, but with his eyes filling with tears he said his next-door neighbour ,who had lived in the house for about two years, had always been happy.


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