'Good friend and neighbour' dies in house fire

PUBLISHED: 14:27 17 January 2006 | UPDATED: 18:02 18 January 2012

The scene of the blaze

The scene of the blaze

A PENSIONER described as a true gent by neighbours has died in a house fire. Father-of-one Richard West, 82, of Nash Close in Stevenage, died at his home last Wednesday night. Neighbour John Adair, 69, and his son Robert, 34, noticed smoke coming from

A PENSIONER described as "a true gent" by neighbours has died in a house fire.

Father-of-one Richard West, 82, of Nash Close in Stevenage, died at his home last Wednesday night.

Neighbour John Adair, 69, and his son Robert, 34, noticed smoke coming from Mr West's home and rushed over.

They tried to get in through the kitchen door but the room was completely smoke-filled. They then heard an explosion.

John's wife Irene said: "They saw his wheelchair but he wasn't it in. If he had been maybe they could have saved him.

"My son was devastated that he couldn't get Richard out. But they didn't know where in the house he was and the smoke was too much."

She said: "He was not only a neighbour but a good friend as well."

Mr Adair was friends with Mr West and thought a lot of him. He would visit him regularly to make sure he was well.

He had visited Mr West at 6pm on the evening of the fire.

He was reading a paper when Mr Adair left. Mr Adair said to him "See you tomorrow" and Mr West put his thumbs up and said okay.

Mrs Adair said: "I went to pieces. He used to love my home-made cake. Whenever I would make some we would take some over for Richard. It seems silly but it's these little things you think of when you lose someone."

More than 20 firefighters from Stevenage, Hitchin and Baldock attended the incident and the fire was put out by 11.55pm.

An investigation is ongoing into the cause of the fire.

Chief fire officer Roy Wilsher said: "This incident is a terrible tragedy and we're keen to reassure people that we are on hand to offer free fire safety advice."

For a home safety check call 0800 5873347 or for fire safety advice visit www.hertsdirect.org/fire

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