Residents tried desperately to save man from fatal Rotherham flat fire

Neighbours desperately tried to rescue a man from his burning flat after being alerted to a blaze on the outskirts of Sheffield by a driver beeping his car horn.

Motorist Jamie Ward said he was passing Gray Avenue, Aughton, at around 11.30pm on Wednesday, when he saw flames billowing from a first floor flat.

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: Robert Taylor

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: Robert Taylor

He said he knocked on the doors of the neighbouring properties before attempting to break in to the man’s flat to rescue him but, despite one neighbour using an axe, they were unable to break the door down.

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Firefighters finally managed to gain access to the flat but a man – believed to be aged in his 30s – died in the blaze.

One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “By the time we noticed, it was well alight. I rang the fire service and then we helped get neighbours out.

Fatal fire on Gray Avenue, Aughton.

Fatal fire on Gray Avenue, Aughton.

“We tried to put the door through but we just couldn’t do it. The firefighters came and finally managed to get in. They carried out CPR on the man in the street but he died.”

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Another neighbour said the man had only lived in the property for a couple of weeks and said he lived on his own.

She praised the efforts of Jamie in alerting neighbours to the blaze and said her thoughts were with the man's family.

Fatal fire on Gray Avenue, Aughton.

Fatal fire on Gray Avenue, Aughton.

The woman added: “If them lads wouldn’t have been driving past it could have been even worse.

“We thought it was the skip that was on fire at first and then when we went outside we have seen that it was the flat.

“The flames were that big by the time we got in that there was no chance for him.”

A bouquet of flowers left on the fence outside the flat paid tribute to ‘Deano’ and said there was ‘complete and utter shock' at what had happened.

Fatal fire on Gray Avenue, Aughton.

Fatal fire on Gray Avenue, Aughton.

John Billings, station manager, who led the firefighting operation, said the blaze started in the lounge.

He said after receiving an initial 999 call about the fire, information then came through that there could have been somebody in the burning flat.

At the height of the blaze there were three fire engines and an aerial ladder platform at the scene as flames engulfed the flat and shot through the roof and windows.

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Mr Billings said: "We got a call at 11.30pm to report a living room fire but on the way there crews were informed that there may have been somebody inside.

"We found the flat heavily involved in fire and quickly committed two firefighters inside to look for the gentleman. They managed to locate him and get him outside pretty quickly and started to do CPR with the police and paramedics."

He added: "We offer our condolences to the man's family.

"I also want to recognise firefighters who worked really quickly and hard in what was a fully developed fire when they arrived."

South Yorkshire Police said they were not treating the fire as suspicious.