House fire victim named as former Royal British Legion branch chairman
PUBLISHED: 16:04 27 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 27 December 2019
Tributes have been paid to a 79-year-old man who died in a house fire on the north Norfolk coast after he was named locally.
Emergency services were called to a fire at a home on Norwich Road, Northrepps, just after 11.40pm on Friday, December 20, and discovered two people caught in the blaze.
The pair were rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital while crews from Cromer, Sheringham and North Walsham battled the fire, finally standing down just after 1am.
Police confirmed the man, understood to be John Laker, had died the next day, Saturday, December 21, having been in a critical condition.
The woman, also in her 70s, was later discharged from hospital after being treated for smoke inhalation.
Mr Laker was the former chairman of the Sheringham and District Branch of the Royal British Legion.
Melanie Clarke, the honorary secretary of the Sheringham and District Branch, posted on the group's Facebook page and said: "It is with a very heavy heart that I have to inform you that John Laker sadly passed away under tragic circumstances.
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"There was a fire at their home a few days ago. The services managed to get them both out of the property, but John later died in hospital.
"John has been a stalwart of the branch for many years. He was our chairman until ill health forced him to take a step back, when he took the position of vice chairman.
"As a branch we will miss him very much and are grateful for all the work he has done for and with us over the years."
She said their thoughts were now with his loved ones.
The president of the branch, Davie Farrow, said: "I am so saddened by the loss of John, who has done so much for the branch.
"You will be greatly missed."
An investigation has concluded that the fire was not started deliberately.
An inquest into Mr Laker's death will be opened at Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich on Monday, December 30.