Pensioner dies in bungalow fire
By Ted JeoryFIRE chiefs have launched an investigation into a blaze at a seaside bungalow that left a 73-year-old man dead.Clacton firefighters arrived at the burning bungalow in Meadow Lane, Jaywick, shortly before noon on Saturday to find the body of Harold Brown lying in his living room, surrounded by the model trains and planes he had so lovingly made.
By Ted Jeory
FIRE chiefs have launched an investigation into a blaze at a seaside bungalow that left a 73-year-old man dead.
Clacton firefighters arrived at the burning bungalow in Meadow Lane, Jaywick, shortly before noon on Saturday to find the body of Harold Brown lying in his living room, surrounded by the model trains and planes he had so lovingly made.
The cause of the blaze was initially thought to be suspicious and Essex Police were called in to start an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Brown's death.
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Forensic scientists were drafted in to comb the bungalow for clues and a post-mortem examination was carried out on Mr Brown yesterday afternoon at Colchester General Hospital.
That showed the pensioner, who lived alone, had died of smoke inhalation and Essex Police announced last night they were no longer treating the circumstances of his death as suspicious.
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However, Essex fire service are continuing their investigation into what started the blaze and an inquest will be held at a later date into Mr Brown's death.
Described by neighbours as a "recluse", Mr Brown lived alone, but is believed to have an elder sister in Suffolk and a former wife and child who do not live in the area.
The alarm was raised at just after 11.30am by Graham Murphy, whose Beach Crescent flat overlooks the bungalow.
He said: "I'd just been shopping and saw smoke coming out of one of the windows, then things started popping and banging – that's when I got worried."
Mr Brown's next-door neighbour, Cindi Warn, said she had been at work when she had received a call from a friend who had just passed and seen Mr Brown's home on fire.
"He was a very nice and considerate man, even though he rarely spoke to anybody. He wouldn't come out much, he was very sheltered. All he used to do was make his models.
"He would say to me 'If you ever need me, just knock on my window', but I never did. He was a smoker though because he used to come out in the garden during the summer and have a cigarette.
"The last time I actually saw him was a couple of weeks ago with a walking stick – he looked well. It's a shame."
Another neighbour, Rose Malley, of Meadow Way, added: "I was out here about 9.30am and nothing was wrong then, but then a couple of hours later I got a call from my sister saying the house next door was on fire.
"I came out and saw a car in his drive, but he used to have a much bigger one so I thought he must be out. I've only just found out he's dead.
"It's really sad. He wasn't a very outgoing person, but when he did talk he was nice enough. He kept himself to himself."
Firefighters described living conditions in the bungalow as "unbelievable" and said they had had difficulty treading on spare floor space.
Although they found ashtrays littered around, their investigation has yet to reveal the cause of the fire, which is no longer being treated as suspicious.