Shock and sadness at woman’s ‘terribly tragic’ death in house fire

House in Old Street at Newton Flotman where fatal fire occurred and Anne Peterson (inset). 

House in Old Street at Newton Flotman where fatal fire occurred and Anne Peterson (inset). - Credit: Denise Bradley

Neighbours have expressed their shock after the death of a woman in a house fire in a Norfolk village. 

Police are investigating the death of Anne Peterson, 79, after fire engulfed her detached home in the early hours of Saturday. 

Police at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Firefighters discovered the retired pharmacist after being called to Old Street in Newton Flotman at 3.50am after reports of smoke and flames seen coming from inside the two-story house.

Householders living on the small street, close to the main A140 Norwich and Ipswich road, described her death as a “terrible tragedy”.  

Mrs Peterson was a mother-of-two with grandchildren who in recent years had used a walking frame due to mobility problems.

The house in Old Street at Newton Flotman where a body was found after a fire. Picture: DENISE BRADL

The house in Old Street at Newton Flotman where a body was found after a fire. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Diane and Bob McKelvey, who live in a cottage opposite, said she had lived alone since the death of her husband John Peterson, a former South Norfolk councillor, in December 2019.

Mrs McKelvey said: “It’s very sad, she was such a nice woman. We’ve known her for a long time, probably 40 years or more.

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"Our children grew up together. They went to the village school, scouts and girl guides at the same time as her children.

Police at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

“She had been living on her own since her husband died.

“The first we knew about it was when the firefighters were at the house. It was so shocking. It’s just a terrible tragedy.”

A police forensic officer at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DEN

A police forensic officer at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Another neighbour said: “She was very kind-hearted. I am very shocked because I only saw her yesterday and she was fine.”

Peter Hale, 85, who lives next door to Mrs Peterson's home, said: “I remember her being friendly when I used to see her. It is a mystery how the fire could have started.”

Anne and John Peterson at a South Norfolk Council election night count in 2007.

Anne and John Peterson at a South Norfolk Council election night count in 2007. - Credit: Archant

Mr Peterson, a retired University of East Anglia lecturer, died from cancer in December 2019 aged 77.

He was a Liberal Democrat councillor for Newton Flotman on South Norfolk Council for around 20 years until standing down in 2007.

Police and fire vehicles at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DENI

Police and fire vehicles at the scene of a fatal fire in Old Street at Newton Flotman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Fire scene investigators were called to the house, which is partially hidden behind vegetation and is named Klondyke.

Police said the death is currently being treated as “unexplained” and the cause of the fire is unknown at this stage.

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