Fire tragedy

PUBLISHED: 11:42 12 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

Fire officers at the scene of the tragedy

Fire officers at the scene of the tragedy

AN ELDERY man has died after being trapped in his burning house. It is thought George Champkin, 94, was trapped by the fire at his home in Monklands, Letchworth GC, on Saturday afternoon. His wife Rose was also in the house and was taken to hospital but h

AN ELDERY man has died after being trapped in his burning house.

It is thought George Champkin, 94, was trapped by the fire at his home in Monklands, Letchworth GC, on Saturday afternoon.

His wife Rose was also in the house and was taken to hospital but her condition is unknown.

Emergency services were called to the house just after 12.30pm when the alarm was raised.

Fire engines from Baldock and Hitchin stations attended, along with two ambulances from the Letchworth depot.

Baldock fire station commander Ian McKenzie, who was at the blaze, said: "We arrived at the property and committed a crew with hose and breathing apparatus within nine minutes of the first emergency call being received.

"A neighbour informed us that the occupier was still inside. The fire crew had to control a severe fire before they were able to begin their search.

"The man was quickly found in the living room but was suffering from burns and severe smoke inhalation.

"He was rescued and immediately given emergency treatment at the scene by paramedics.

"We believe that the man may have become trapped by the fire and unable to escape, and it was due to the close co-operation between the fire service and paramedics that he still had a chance of survival.

"We were very sad to learn that subsequently the man passed away in hospital."

One of the Champkins' neighbours, who did not wish to be named, described the fire as "awful".

She said: "It was roaring through the whole bottom of the house. You see fires on TV but you never hear it. I was really scared.

"I didn't know what to do first. I've never seen anything like it."

The neighbour, who has lived near the Champkins for 38 years, said the couple "kept themselves to themselves".

It is believed that the couple's daughters, who live in Canada, flew back to the UK early this week.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although it is believed to be accidental and most likely due to unattended cooking.

l The fire service this week issued a reminder that it offers free home safety checks. The checks include advice on general fire safety in the home and a smoke alarm check. New smoke alarms can also be fitted, free of charge, where necessary. For more information, ring Baldock and Letchworth Fire Station on 01462 666900, or Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's freephone number on 0800 5873347.

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