Grandmother dies in fire

JON WELCH Tributes were paid last night to a grandmother who died when fire tore through a family home near Norwich. Pauline Crane, 65, died in the blaze in Foxburrow Road, Sprowston, early yesterday.

JON WELCH

Tributes were paid last night to a grandmother who died when fire tore through a family home near Norwich.

Pauline Crane, 65, died in the blaze in Foxburrow Road, Sprowston, early yesterday.

Her son Jason, 39, rescued his three stepsons from the fire but was unable to save his disabled mother, who was in a ground-floor room.

The fire broke out shortly before 2am. Mr Crane used a ladder to reach the boys, Julian, 15, Luke, 13, and Jake, 11, from an upstairs room, sustaining a broken ankle. His partner Sam, 37, managed to escape on her own.

The boys were taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. A Staffordshire bull terrier died in the fire.

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Neighbour Sarah Goreham, 33, and her friend Craig Cutting, 21, witnessed the fire and joined the family in trying to save Mrs Crane. Mr Cutting said: “I was on the computer and heard the sound of glass breaking. At first I thought it was just kids but then it got a bit louder. I looked outside and saw flames coming from Pauline's window. It's still hard to believe. I have never seen a fire go so quickly.”

Ms Goreham said: “Sam was already calling the fire brigade and Jason was getting the ladder out of the van. We tried to open the door of the house but it was just too hot. There was nothing we could do.”

She hailed Mr Crane a hero. “The man's a diamond. Within two minutes he had got those kids out. If it hadn't been for him there would have been four deaths.

“Pauline was lovely. She had a serious stroke three or four years back and could hardly walk or talk, but when you saw her in the street she would always try to smile. She never missed my kids' birthdays.

“They are a lovely, close family and Pauline was at the heart of it. They were a breath of fresh air. For this to happen to them is just wrong.”

Next-door neighbour Wendy Abrams, 62, said: “Pauline was a good friend. She had been through a lot health-wise. She pulled through the stroke and had a family that loved her.”

The right side of the house, which is two semi-detached properties knocked through, was gutted by the fire.

Four fire crews tackled the blaze for more than an hour. Firefighters stayed through the night in case of hotspots.

Speaking at the scene, Simon Mason, watch manager at Sprowston Fire Station, said: “The dad did really well - he managed to rescue the three kids through the back window with a ladder before we arrived. The blaze was severe by the time we got here and developing rapidly. The grandmother, who we believe is the father's mother, died because it was too severe for the dad to rescue her.”

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