Neighbour’s bid to save man from blaze fails
SPROUGHTON: Desperate to help his neighbour, one brave young man climbed on to the roof of a burning bungalow in a bid to rescue an elderly man from a blazing inferno.
The fire broke out in the single-storey home in Beech Close, Sproughton.
The occupant, named locally as George Scott, was reported missing inside the building as the fire ravaged the kitchen and living room. He later died after fire crews and paramedics tried to revive him.
Noticing the smell of smoke James Flatman, who lives across the road from Mr Scott, said he and his father saw smoke coming from the windows.
As his mother Janet called 999 the 24-year-old and another neighbour dashed across the road to see if Mr Scott, who was aged in his 80s, was inside.
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“We realised something was wrong when we saw smoke coming from the windows,” he said. “We went up to the house, knocking the doors and I climbed on the roof to see if I could see Mr Scott inside.
“I was very, very worried for George, we presumed he was in there and of course he was.
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“It is so sad, we felt so helpless, I don’t really know what happened.
“We couldn’t see anything, just lots of flames in the living room, it was terrible. He was such a lovely man.”
An investigation into the cause of yesterday’s fire is under way, but early findings suggest the flames started in the kitchen, perhaps as a result of a faulty kettle.
Group manager for Ipswich, Martyn Thorpe, based at Princes Street fire station, said the blaze, which broke out at 11am, spread rapidly as a result of the highly flammable polystyrene ceiling tiles throughout the home.
He said: “There was a severe fire in the front room and kitchen of the bungalow.
“On arrival we bashed the doors down, and put one team into fight the fire and another quickly came across the elderly gentleman.
“He was pulled out straight away and we commenced CPR until the ambulance service arrived.”
He said that despite nearly an hour of treatment the victim died.
Mr Thorpe also said that the bungalow was covered in polystyrene ceiling tiles which are notorious for quick fire spread.
“The fire definitely started in the kitchen, and was possibly the result of a faulty kettle,” he continued.
“It was a difficult fire for us, fortunately we get very few fire deaths, our condolences go to the gentleman’s family.
“It appears he did have a smoke alarm, but it is difficult to tell whether it alerted him or not. We would urge everyone to test their smoke alarms and if they do not have one to install one straight away.”
Shocked at the tragedy which unfolded in front of them, neighbours paid heartfelt tributes to their friend. Mrs Flatman said Mr Scott was a “real gentleman”.
She said: “He was a lovely man. It has been a real shock. They knocked the door down and he was just laying in there.
“James tried desperately to help him, but it was just too dangerous. It was so sad. To think such a lovely gentleman ended his days in that way, it is awful.”
And Beryl and Fred Welham, who moved into the close at the same time as Mr Scott in 1964, said he had been a “lovely neighbour and friend”.
“He was a lovely man, and his wife Jean was wonderful, too.”
They said Mr Scott, who lived in the house alone, had moved to the village from India, working at the nearby sugar beet factory, until his retirement.
His son Ian died a few years ago and he is survived by his daughter, named by neighbours as Virginia.
A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said they were called to reports a man had suffered a heart attack.
The spokeswoman said it is possible Mr Scott could have suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of smoke inhalation.
Anyone with information is asked to telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500.
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n See Opinion, page 6