AN elderly man died yesterday afternoon in a house fire in his own home.
The blaze broke out in a semi-detached house in Wayside Court, Bearpark, near Durham City.
Firefighters dashed to the scene after being alerted by neighbours. Two crews arrived at 3.30pm. Firefighters had to break down the door to get in. They fought their way through thick smoke before reaching the man, who lived alone, in his living room.
Steve Owers, district manager of the Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Brigade, said firefighters had to break down the front door to get into the house.
“They had to wear breathing apparatus. The blaze was fairly severe. Although it was contained to the house, smoke was seeping outside.
“The alarm was raised by neighbours but as far as we know no attempt was made to enter the property. We had to smash down the door to gain entry.”
The street was sealed off by police last night. The dead man was named locally as James Barron, in his seventies.
Officer Owers said: “We are currently investigating the cause of the fire, alongside police, but there is no suggestion at this stage that it is suspicious.”
Fire crews were offering free smoke alarms to neighbours in Wayside Court last night.
“Tragedies such as this unfortunately reinforce the need for smoke alarms, although we are unable to say whether or not one was in place at the address where the blaze took place.”
One neighbour said: “The elderly gentleman lived alone in the house and had done for a number of years.
“What has happened is absolutely tragic.”