Pensioner died before bungalow fire started

FELIXSTOWE: A pensioner whose home was engulfed in a fierce fire died before the blaze started, it was officially revealed today.

Carole Rawlinson, who suffered from emphysema, a lung condition that causes shortness of breath and required her to take oxygen wherever she went, died from natural causes, a post mortem showed.

She was found in her bedroom, fully clothed.

Fire and police investigators say the fire was not suspicious and believe the cause was an electrical fault, possibly in a piece of equipment in the lounge of the bungalow in Larkhill Way, Felixstowe.

It is not known how long Mrs Rawlinson, 65, had been dead before the fire started. A police spokeswoman said the coroner has been informed of the post mortem result and an inquest would not now be held.

The fire happened on Wednesday night at around 10pm. Two crews from Felixstowe and one from Ipswich fought the flames.

The blaze was “well developed” by the time firefighters arrived and caused substantial damage to the property, destroying the lounge, its furnishings and fittings, ripping the walls down to bare brick, blowing out the windows and melting the plastic frames. As the fire took hold, Mrs Rawlinson’s pet dog Olley made his escape through the open back door and is now being cared for by the victim’s best friend, Sheila Fahy, 68, of St Mary’s Close, Trimley St Mary.

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The pair met around 27 years ago when they worked together at the St Felix Home for the Blind – Sheila as manager and Carole as cook -– but Mrs Fahy had in recent years become her friend’s carer after she was diagnosed with emphysema.

Mrs Rawlinson was divorced from her husband around 30 years ago and has a brother and one daughter, who she was estranged from.

n Do you want to pay tribute to Mrs Rawlinson? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstar