Two people dead in Christmas Eve fire tragedies

A woman died and several houses were damaged  in this fire on Mary Street, in Whale Thorn, near Nether Langwith.
A woman died and several houses were damaged in this fire on Mary Street, in Whale Thorn, near Nether Langwith.

TWO people have been killed in separate fires in the early hours of this morning, one in a flat and another which completely gutted a terraced house, writes Richard Marsden.

Firefighters were first called out to a complex of flats in Cantley, Doncaster.

The burned out flat where  a man and a dog were found dead in Callender Court, Middleham Road, Cantley.

The burned out flat where a man and a dog were found dead in Callender Court, Middleham Road, Cantley.

Neighbouring residents dialled 999 after their smoke alarms went off and firefighters called to the scene at about 3.20am today had to break into the burning property.

The resident, a man in his 40s known to neighbours as Andy, and his pet Akita dog were found dead.

The man was discovered in the living room, where the fire is believed to have started. The flat was not believed to have had a working smoke alarm.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire fire service said: “Fire crews from Doncaster and Edlington were called to the Callender Court flat complex on Middleham Road, Cantley at 3.20am today.

“The deceased man, believed to be in his 40s, was discovered by firefighters after they forced entry to a flat to tackle the fire. A dog was also discovered to have died.”

He added: “A number of occupants of neighbouring flats were led to safety as a precaution after smoke spread from the fire.

“One woman was taken to hospital for a precautionary check. The fire was confined to one flat, and was tackled by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus using a hose reel.”

Investigators were at the scene this morning.

One near neighbour said: “We were woken in the early hours by the flashing lights of the emergency services but only found out what happened later on. It’s quite a shock.”

“I knew him only by his first name and used to see him out and about walking his dog which was a beautiful Japanese Akita.”

Meanwhile, a 65-year-old woman, named by neighbours as Norma Sweeney, was killed in a ‘very significant fire’ which completely destroyed a house on Mary Street, Whaley Thorns, between Chesterfield and Worksop.

Her husband Bob, daughter and a friend, who had all been asleep in the house, managed to escape by jumping out of an upstair windows and one of them via the front door.

The fire, which broke out after 5am this morning, was so severe the inside of the home was completely destroyed, with blackened brick walls and the roof was also missing.

Flames had spread to the roofs of two neighbouring homes, which were also evacuated.

Flowers were laid at the scene by Mrs Sweeney’s family and friends.

A message with one bouquet read: “To the best mem ever, gonna miss you so much. We will love you forever. You will always be in our thoughts. Max and Jac.”

A bouquet from one of Mrs Sweeney’s daughters said: “To mum, love you so much, Rachael.”

And another said: “God wanted an angel and called out your name.”

Other flowers had messages which paid tribute to a ‘truly wonderful lady’.

One neighbour said: “It was an inferno and the three who got out were very lucky to survive. Norma is well-known around here along with her husband, who used to be a miner.

“She worked at the Snapbox cafe and charity shop and also used to be a regular playing bingo at The Gate pub.”

Group Manager Steve Helps, of Derbyshire Fire Service, said: “When the first crew arrived at about 5.20am there was already a very significant fire.

“Three people had managed to escape but one occupant was not able to get out. The fire is believed to have started on the ground floor and we are currently investigating the cause.

“At this time, it is not confirmed whether there was a working smoke alarm and I cannot stress enough the importance of having one.

“People can also take steps to minimise the risk of fire by turning appliances off and households should also have an escape plan.”

A Derbyshire Police spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately a 65-year-old woman occupant was unable to escape the property and has been confirmed as deceased despite the valiant efforts of the fire crews in attendance.

“A joint fire investigation is currently taking place between Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and Derbyshire Constabulary to find the cause of the fire. At this stage the fire is not being treated as suspicious.

“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the family and friends at this sad time.”