Man's tribute to his 'dearest friend' killed in Norwich fire

Gary Hunt (left) and Jem Probert (right) 

Gary Hunt (left) and Jem Probert (right) - Credit: Picture by Tracy Hildred

A man who moved away from Norwich has described his shock at finding out about the death in a house fire of his "dearest friend".

Gary Hunt was found in a bungalow at Langley Walk, off Old Palace Road on Tuesday, February 2.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has confirmed crews were sent shortly before 9.40pm following reports of a fire.

Two ambulances, two ambulance officers and a car from the East Anglian Air Ambulance attended but the spokesman added "sadly, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, a man died at the scene".

News of the tragedy has reached Jem Probert, 59, a lorry driver now living in Lincolnshire, but who used to go to Hellesdon High School with Mr Hunt.

Langley Walk where a fatal fire broke out on Tuesday, February 2 (Picture Danielle Booden) and inset Gary Hunt who died in...

Langley Walk where a fatal fire broke out on Tuesday, February 2 (Picture Danielle Booden) and inset Gary Hunt who died in the fire (Picture Facebook) - Credit: Danielle Booden, Archant Norfolk/Facebook

Mr Probert said he wanted to pay tribute to his "dear friend" who was so tragically "taken from us in a terrible way".

He said: "Gary and I were best of friends throughout our time at Hellesdon High School and when we left we were always together.

"He would always have a smile on his face: nothing was ever too much trouble for him. He was just a bloke who was always there."

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The friends lost touch but they met up again last year after they both attended a funeral in Norwich.

Langley Walk in Norwich where a house fire took place last night. Picture: Danielle Booden

Blue and white police tape surrounds the bungalow where the fire happened. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Probert said: "We stayed in contact and met up when we could. To be honest he was just the same Gary I remembered all those years ago."

Fire crews from Earlham, Carrow and Sprowston were called to the fire, and Police later confirmed that a man in his 50s found inside the property died in the blaze which broke out shortly before 9.30pm.

Tributes have since been paid to Mr Hunt by neighbours, who said he had a "heart of gold".

Police officer at scene of house fire

Police at the scene of the house fire in Langley Walk, Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Probert added: "Sadly coronavirus made it impossible to meet up again, but we kept in touch through social media and telephone calls.

"We were going to do so much catching up when it was possible, but sadly this was not to be."

Mr Probert said he still smiled about the things they got up to "way back then" and knew those memories would also put a smile on the face of his "dearest friend".

As previously reported, Neil Featherby, owner of Sportlink running and fitness in Taverham, who used to go to school with Mr Probert and Mr Hunt, said their old friend was  just "a lovely guy".

A police spokesman said the fire was being treated as non-suspicious, and a file had been prepared for the coroner.