Minister dies in car fire

A WELL-KNOWN Suffolk church minister died last night in a car blaze outside his home despite attempts to rescue him.The Rev John Pugh, 54, minister of Stowmarket United Reformed Church, was in his Honda car when the vehicle burst into flames.

A WELL-KNOWN Suffolk church minister died last night in a car blaze outside his home despite attempts to rescue him.

The Rev John Pugh, 54, minister of Stowmarket United Reformed Church, was in his Honda car when the vehicle burst into flames.

Neighbours told how a teenage boy, believed to be the minister's son, desperately tried to free his father by smashing a window of the burning car.

But the fire was too severe and the boy was taken to the West Suffolk Hospital with minor burns to his arm.


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The blaze started shortly after 3.30pm outside Mr Pugh's home in Temple Road, Stowmarket.

Investigations are underway to establish the cause of the fire.

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Residents heard a loud bang and ran out of their homes to see the vehicle in flames. Many tried to pour water onto the car to try and douse the flames but were beaten back by the heat.

Mr Pugh, who has been a church minister for 29 years, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Eddie Meelan, divisional officer with Suffolk Fire Service, said: "When crews arrived they found the car fully involved in fire at that stage. It became evident soon after that someone was within the car.

"It was a question of then extinguishing the fire. The vehicle is now going to be recovered by the police and we will look to do more investigations on the car. The engine was relatively intact," he added.

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named said: "I shouted to try and find out whether anybody knew if anybody was in there. Somebody came out and said there was someone in there.

"I came charging back in here with a fire extinguisher and tried to put the fire out but it was too severe. A child was trying to break the glass and burnt his arm. It was extremely distressing for him."

A 25-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, added: "I heard screaming: 'Get out'. It took us 15-20 seconds to run outside and by that time it was just lots of flames.

"We ran down and out and did what we could which was not a lot. It was so severe there was not a lot we could do. People were carrying out water in containers. We could only get so close.

"It's a sort of small place so everyone is quite friendly. It's not the sort of thing you would expect in a street like this."

A spokesman for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust said: "We were called to Temple Road in Stowmarket at 3.39pm. One male was pronounced deceased at the scene from burns and a 15-year-old, who we believe was the man's son and was trying to save him, was taken to hospital with minor burns."

Mr Pugh has been minister at the United Reformed Church for more than 20 years. In 1999, he celebrated his 25th anniversary of ordination to the Christian ministry.

The Rev Marc Kenton, 34, associate minister of Stowmarket United Reformed Church, paid tribute to his colleague.

He said: "John was an extremely caring and loving man who cared very deeply for his family and for his congregation. He gave himself for 29 years in selfless ministry to his God and to his church.

"He will be greatly missed. Members of the church have been informed and the news was met with great shock and a great deal of tears. A lot of tears were shed.

"I have known him for three years. I think he was a truly professional minister. One of the most professional I have ever worked with."

The minister said a church service in memory of Mr Pugh would be held in the next few days.

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