AN elderly man died in a blaze at his home in Earby last night.

Firefighers said a neighbour noticed smoke coming from the detached bungalow in Barnwood Crescent at 5.15pm.

Neighbours then tried to reach the occupant, named locally as 82-year-old Douglas Hurst, but were beaten back by heat and flames.

With flames shooting from the property, six firefighters from Earby Fire Station then entered the bungalow, wearing breathing apparatus.

They found the pensioner but he was dead by the time he was brought out. A neighbour said she had been having their tea when she saw smoke coming from the house.

She said she saw a neighbour run across the road and try to kick the door of the bungalow in.

She said: "The thick black smoke was choking. It was pouring out. It looked like he had drawn his curtains because the smoke had made the windows so black.

"There was this feeling of utter uselessness. It was so frustrating.

"I was thinking of putting a wet towel over my head and going in but my neighbours told me not to."

The neighbour said Mr Hurst was a widower, who had been a gamekeeper and also bred dogs.

She said: "He was a really nice private old man. He was very much a country man. He loved crime thrillers.

"He wasn't a well man and had been in and out of hospital recently. He had a mobility scooter but didn't get out much."

The cause of the fire is unclear and an initial investigation was begun last night.

However, a fire service spokesman said a more detailed investigation would begin this (Tuesday) morning in daylight.

It is also not known whether a working smoke alarm had been fitted in the property.