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Person dies following blaze in housing estate

PUBLISHED: 18:38 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:59 30 July 2020

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Ian Burt Photography

Neighbours have described their shock after a person was killed in a house fire to the west of the county.

Emergency services were called to the scene of a house fire in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah HussainEmergency services were called to the scene of a house fire in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain

Fire crews, police and the ambulance service attended the scene of a house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market on Wednesday morning.

A body was discovered inside the semi-detached house, which has been left blackened and charred by fire.

Donna Hewitt rushed to the scene after seeing smoke coming from down the road.

She said: “I shot down there and couldn’t see anything through the windows. I knocked on the door and I wanted to go in but people were shouting to not open the door.”

Emergency services were called to the scene of a house fire in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah HussainEmergency services were called to the scene of a house fire in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain

“It was just horrific.”

She believes the fire started in the downstairs of the property.

“The flames were horrendous,” she added.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. They were just everywhere. It popped the downstairs window.”

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian BurtEmergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Neighbours managed to save a dog that was found out the back of the property in an outhouse.

Maureen and Keith Hancock have lived in the area for 12 years and said they came out to “big red flames.”

Mrs Hancock “police were scrambling to get cars moved” out the way at the time of the fire.

She added: “We just couldn’t believe it. I mean, most of these houses had been modernised, it’s frightening.

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian BurtEmergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

“We were asked if we’d heard a bang but I didn’t hear anything, whether it was a gas explosion we just don’t know yet.

“The flames were right up to the roof.”

The fire has been put out but a seal remains on the property and fire investigators are on scene to carry out enquiries to establish the cause.

A spokesperson from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said six fire engines attended the scene from Downham Market, Outwell and King’s Lynn.

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian BurtEmergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Liam O’Dea, who lives across the road from the house, said: “I don’t know what happened. I shouted outside when I saw it. I didn’t know if anyone was in there.”

He said crews were quick to get to the scene as a police car was in the area doing speed checks.

Mr O’Dea said he tried to keep his seven-year-old son from seeing the blaze at the time.

He said: “I didn’t want him exposed to seeing a fire across from us. I told him everything was okay.

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian BurtEmergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

“It could have been a lot worse if the services didn’t get here quickly and it could have spread next door.”

Police have said the death is currently being treated as unexplained and the cause of the fire is not yet known.


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