Man dies in Sheffield house fire

The house on Poplar Avenue, Beighton, where a man died.
The house on Poplar Avenue, Beighton, where a man died.

Investigations are underway today after a man died in a house fire in a Sheffield suburb.

Two teenage neighbours battled to put out the blaze but the man - named by locals as forklift driver Richard Hobson - died as flames tore through the semi he shared with his sister and elderly mother on Poplar Avenue, Beighton.

The inferno was so intense roaring flames burst through the roof.

Richard’s mother Kathleen, believed to be in her 80s, managed to flee and was outside sobbing when fire crews arrived shortly before 4.30pm yesterday.

His sister, Anne, was at work as the tragedy unfolded.

Richard, thought to be in his 60s, was trapped in a bedroom, and a team of eight firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fought their way up to find him.

Mum-of-four Janet Thornton, 50, who lives next door, said two of her sons also tried to fight the fire.

Sheffield College student Tom Thornton, 18, and his younger brother Jamie, 15, turned a hosepipe on the flames.

Aston Academy pupil Jamie - who was off school with chicken pox - said: “Tom came running downstairs and said, ‘There’s a fire’. I jumped up and ran out.

“I saw Kath crying and banging on the front door shouting ‘Richard’. I tried getting her away, but she kept going back to the house.

“I ran to the back garden and jumped on our extension. I was handed a hosepipe and I started spraying water through the back window.

“Suddenly the window smashed and smoke and flames came out.

“I jumped down as I wasn’t wearing a top, and my brother went up and carried on, but it was getting violent. There was so much smoke and fire.”

Their mother, a care assistant, added: “Richard was lovely. He used to give the children sweets and magazines. He was a nice bloke and his mum is lovely. I feel so sorry for her.”

She said her property is also ruined with smoke and water damage.

“I have got four children and we have nowhere to go,” she said. “You read about these things, but you don’t think it will happen to you.”

Clare Goldenburgh, who lives on nearby Woodlands Avenue, said: “It’s just devastating. There were flames everywhere. It’s so awful and upsetting. Kath has lived there years.”

The blaze broke out at about 4.10pm and 25 firefighters in five appliances rushed to the scene.

Kevin Ronan, senior fire officer at the scene, said: “It was very intense and spread quickly. We don’t know how or where it started.”

Mr Ronan said the severely fire damaged property would have to be made structurally safe before anyone could go in to begin a full inquiry.