Police and firefighters are today investigating the death of a man in a house fire in Durham.
Firefighters were called to an address in Beech Close, Brasside, close to HMP Frankland, at about 6.15pm yesterday.
A man, who neighbours said was a retired prison officer, was pronounced dead at the scene.
He is believed to be a widower in his early 60s who lived alone.
A neighbour said: “It was about 6.15pm. A neighbour noticed smoke coming from the roof of the house.
“The smoke was drifting up through the roof tiles. We could see the house was full of smoke, but couldn’t see any flames.
“A neighbour managed to get in through the utility door, but could not get through the main back door.
“The fire brigade were called. They brought him out and worked on him for abour an hour, but sadly couldn’t bring him back.
“He was well-liked and well-respected. He had lived here for a long time and worked with many people who are still serving.”
The neighbour said she thought the man had been unwell.
“When they brought him out he wasn’t dressed, so he must have been in bed, and it was not like him to go to bed in the afternoon unless he was not well.”
A spokesman for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said: “Tragically, a male adult was pronounced dead at the scene. A joint fire and police investigation will be conducted.”
A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: “Police officers, the fire service and paramedics attended a blaze at Beech Close, Brasside, Durham at 6.20pm last night.
“Sadly, despite all efforts, a 61-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.
“A joint investigation between Durham Constabulary and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is now underway to establish the cause of the fire.”