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Neighbours describe valiant attempt to save person who died in devastating house fire

The scene of the house fire in Yoxford. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The scene of the house fire in Yoxford. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Archant

Brave neighbours who tried to save a person who died in a house fire were forced to abort their rescue attempts after being beaten back by thick, black smoke.

Brave neighbours who tried to save a person who died in a house fire were forced to abort their rescue attempts after being beaten back by thick, black smoke.

People living in Yoxford High Street described being woken by the sound of shattering glass at around 5.20am on Saturday (December 15) as flames took over the two-storey semi-detached house in Grove Side, off the High Street, where it is believed an elderly man lived with his dog.

MORE: Person dies in Yoxford house fire

When they stepped outside, they saw clouds of “horrendous” thick black smoke billowing in the air, with some seeing flames through the front window.

As residents tried shouting to grab the attention of the person inside, one neighbour reportedly smashed a glass window and went in on his hands and knees in a rescue attempt - but had to retreat due to the severity of the smoke.

People then gathered outside and watched helplessly as firefighters from Halesworth, Saxmundham and Leiston tackled the flames.

They put the blaze out by 6.15am but were unable to save the person inside.

The death is currently being treated as unexplained but a police officer at the scene said it is not being treated as suspicious.

One neighbour, who asked not be named, said: “I came downstairs and the smoke was horrendous. It was black, billowing smoke. It was scary, really frightening.”

One person banged on the door and reportedly used a hammer to break a window. “He tried to go on his hands and knees but said the smoke was so bad he had to come back,” the neighbour said.

“They called the fire brigade and we then stood outside waiting to hear something.

“It was a bit of a shock to wake up to that. You try to help but there’s not much you can do.”

Carolyne Kerridge, 69, who lives in nearby Little Street, said: “At 5.15am I heard voices, then I heard the breaking of glass.

“I then got up to have a look to see massive smoke. It looked like a big ball of smoke, probably because the wind pushed it round.”

Steve Wheeler, who lives nearby in Yoxford High Street and himself lost everything in a house fire in Ipswich a few years ago, said: “From what I heard from neighbours, there was a chap who lived next-door and tried to get in but the smoke was too bad.

“All I could see was smoke rather than flames.

“I had a house fire a few years back, so I know what it’s like to have something like that happen. The fact it’s happened so close to home, it has a bit more of an effect. It makes you reflect more about life.”

Fellow High Street resident Alex Corbett, 44, added: “It’s pretty horrible. It’s hard to put into words. It’s not worth speculating until we know what happened.”

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “I just heard glass shattering. There was just thick, black smoke and you could see fire downstairs.

“I heard a neighbour tried to enter the property but the smoke was just too much. There was lots of shouting, screaming and people trying to grab his attention.

“The fire service were amazing. You couldn’t fault what they did. They were here so quickly and that’s all you can ask for.”

Thalia Barker, co-owner at G&Ts Cafe and Kitchen in Yoxford, said there was a great deal of sadness in the village over what had happened.

“We’re a very close-knit community in Yoxford,” she said.

“When something like this happens it pulls at the heart strings. Our heart goes out to him and his family.”

Andrew Singleton, owner of Suffolk House Antiques, in the High Street, said he was sorry to hear someone had passed away.

A joint police and fire investigation is now taking place into the cause of the blaze.

Engineers from UK Power Networks were also on site. Scaffolding was also put up during the afternoon to help secure the structure of the house.

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