FRIENDS and neighbours have paid tribute to a “gentleman” pensioner who tragically died in an Earby house fire.
Fire investigators said Douglas Hurst (82) had a “smoking mishap” in the living room of his home in Barnwood Crescent on Monday evening.
Next door neighbour Denis Crossley described Mr Hurst as a “very quiet and private person”.
He said: “He was a gamekeeper and bred springer spaniels. He definitely loved the outdoor life and said he had worked over most of the country and really enjoyed his work. He had also enjoyed game fishing. Douglas’ health had steadily deteriorated over the last few years and he had to get rid of his car and use a mobility scooter.
“The fire just happened so quickly. Douglas had a gardening firm that came to mow his lawn and I could hear him talking to the men at his door when they arrived. Only an hour later I was walking through to the kitchen and saw all the smoke billowing out of the house. One of the neighbours from across the road kicked the panel off the door but couldn’t get in. That was the frustrating thing, nobody could do anything with all the thick toxic smoke. We just had to wait for the fire fighters to arrive. It is very sad. Douglas was a real gentleman.”
Another neighbour, Frank Harper, said: “Douglas was well-respected here. We would see him going up and down from town on his scooter and he would always wave. It is a very sad way to go. There was so much smoke coming from the house, we thought at least another bungalow must be on fire.”
Fire crews from Earby, Colne and Barnoldswick were called to the detached bungalow at 5-15 p.m. on Monday. Six firefighters entered the house wearing breathing apparatus and found Mr Hurst, but despite their best efforts he had died in the fire.
A spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue service said: “The investigation is still under way and we can’t absolutely rule out other causes but we believe it was a smoking mishap. “Exactly what happened is still being looked at.”
Firefighters renewed their appeal for residents to take advantage of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s offer of free 10-year smoke alarms through their Home Fire Safety Checks.
Barnoldswick Watch Manager Mick Strickland said: “There was a smoke alarm in the house but it has not been established yet if it was working. It is so important to have them installed because they can raise the alarm that much quicker.”
To book a free home safety check call 0800 169 1125 or visit www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk