‘Smoking materials’ killed Earby pensioner

PROBE Fire investigators search through the wreckage of the pensioner’s home in Barnwood Crescent

PROBE Fire investigators search through the wreckage of the pensioner’s home in Barnwood Crescent

First published in Earby Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy news editor

THE house fire in which an 82-year-old man died in Earby on Monday night was caused by a cigarette, it has been revealed.

Douglas Hurst was dead by the time he was rescued by fire crews from his burning home in Barnwood Crescent.

Investigations at the scene have revealed that the fire started in the lounge of the property, where Mr Hurst’s body was found, and was caused by ‘smoking materials’.

A spokesman for the fire and rescue service said: “The cause of the fire is not being treated as suspicious.

“The investigation has considered a range of legitimate causes of the fire but it is believed that the fire was started by smoking materials.”

Mr Hurst was a widower and a retired gamekeeper.

The fire started at 5.15pm and when neighbours attempted to go to his aid they were beaten back by the flames from the property.

Six firefighters from Earby Fire Station then entered the bungalow, wearing breathing apparatus.

One neighbour 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.”

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.”

Barnoldswick Watch Manager Mick Strickland said: “There was a smoke alarm in the house, but the investigators will check to see if it was working.”

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