POLICE were today investigating the "suspicious" death of a pensioner who collapsed minutes after dialling 999 to report a confrontation with youths.

Sheila Bridge, 62, of Lansbury Place, Nelson, collapsed soon after calling police about a group of youngsters causing trouble in her street.

Shortly after the call Mrs Bridge, who neighbours said had only recently moved to the area, was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Police say they are treating the death as 'suspicious' and have been carrying out house to house inquiries in the area to try to establish the course of events leading up to the confrontation.

A special inquiry room has been set up at Nelson Police Station and a team of officers is being led by Detective Superintendent Mick Turner.

He said: "We know that late in the evening there were a number of calls to the police, including one from Mrs Bridge about troublesome young people.

"Officers went to her home and at that time there were no young people about.

"Sadly soon after, Mrs Bridge collapsed. Now obviously we would like to speak with any of these youngsters or indeed anybody who saw any of these incidents.

"It is all very sad and tragic and we want anybody who can help to contact us at Nelson Police Station ."

Detective Sergeant Peter Simm added: "Mrs Bridge shouted at the youths from inside her house but we believe there was no physical contact.

"She contacted the police and a short time after her husband rang the ambulance to say she was in a lot of pain. She later collapsed." Mrs Bridge's husband, named by neighbours as Fred, was yesterday being comforted by relatives and police from the Family Liaison Unit.

Family Liaison Officer Detective Constable Charlie Haynes said the family were too upset to talk about the incident.

Next-door-neighbour Mrs Norah Slater, 91, said she had been woken at about 1am and had found her front room window open.

She said she hadn't heard any disturbance earlier.

Det Supt Turner stressed there was no racial element to the incident nor any connection with the recent disturbances in Burnley.

Marion Seed, a neighbour and a friend of Sheila's, said: "I returned home from hospital just the day before Sheila died, so I hadn't seen anything suspicious on the night, but there are an awful lot of youths that roam around the area."