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Married couple died in house blaze tragedy, inquest hears

Firefighters at the scene of the house fire in Capel St Mary  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Firefighters at the scene of the house fire in Capel St Mary Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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An inquest has opened into the death of a couple from Colchester who died in a devastating house fire in Capel St Mary.

Firefighters prepare to enter the house with breathing apparatus   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNFirefighters prepare to enter the house with breathing apparatus Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Peter and Pauline Leatherdale, both 75, died on October 2, 2019, after a fire broke out at a semi-detached house in Chapel Close.

An inquest was opened at Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich on Friday, December 27, and was adjourned until March 25, 2020.

Senior coroner Nigel Parsley said during the hearing that the fire service were called at 8.26am on October 2 to a "well developed fire".

He said: "Mr Leatherdale and his wife were unable to escape from the property and were confirmed deceased at 9.40am on October 2."

An inquest has opened into the death of a Colchester couple who died in a house fire in Capel St Mary  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAn inquest has opened into the death of a Colchester couple who died in a house fire in Capel St Mary Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A woman in her 40s and two children escaped the burning building and were taken to hospital as a precaution.

Speaking at the scene of the tragedy, Ian Bowell, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service area commander, said when they arrived smoke and flames were coming out of the ground floor and upstairs windows.

He said: "It is absolutely tragic and this community in which they lived in is in a complete state of shock at this moment in time."

Jackie Fulcher, who lives just a few houses down, said what had happened was "heartbreaking".

Eleven fire engines attended the scene of the fatal fire  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEleven fire engines attended the scene of the fatal fire Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

She said: "I was sitting in my conservatory eating my breakfast at about 8.20am and all of a sudden I couldn't see out because of the smoke. At first I thought it was a bonfire but knew it couldn't have been because of how thick it was."

Soon after news of the fire broke, a crowdfunding page was set up by the community to raise money for rest of the family, who had become homeless.

Within 24 hours, the page had collected more than £7,000 in donations - more than ten times the amount they had hoped for.

When the appeal was closed, the total had reached more than £11,000.

District councillor for Capel St Mary, Sue Carpendale said the response from the community has been "phenomenal".

"It's a bitter sweet moment to see how amazing the residents are being but that it has been brought on by such a profoundly tragic event," she said.

"It's not just the money on the fundraising page its the donations of clothing and volunteers opening up places to collect clothing and bed linen."

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