Tributes paid to man who died after flat fire in Norwich

Tributes have been paid to a man who died in hospital after a flat fire in Norwich.

As reported, emergency services were called to a blaze at a ground floor flat in Wilberforce Road, West Earlham, just before 11pm on Saturday.

A man found in the property was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital but died in the early hours of Sunday. An investigation has been launched into the fire.

The man who died has not been formally identified but last night he was named locally as 'Hughie' Kearney, a widower who lived alone.

Neighbours said Mr Kearney was aged about 60, a smoker, and had been living in the council flat for about 15 years.

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Neighbour Alan Gray said: 'He was very well-liked in the area, good-natured and a very affable man. He was a Scotsman. He used to be seen a lot walking his dog in the area, before it died.'

Mr Gray was in his upstairs flat on Saturday evening when he heard a banging noise just before 11pm.

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He said: 'At first I thought it was some kind of altercation. But then I heard someone shouting 'Hughie'. I think some of the other neighbours, some of the younger men, were trying to rescue him. I think one of them climbed onto the balcony outside the flat to try and rescue him. The smoke detector was going off in the building.

'When the fire crew arrived they told us to stay in our flats and shut the windows. Luckily the wind was north-easterly which meant the smoke was blown away from the flats.'

Neighbours said Mr Kearney, who is believed to have several children, had enjoyed a varied career including spells as a bus conductor, a chef in London and a postman, but he was not working at present.

Mr Kearney's family was too upset to speak last night but said they would later pay their own tribute in the paper.

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