Neighbours speak of shock after man dies in flat blaze

The scene on Marine Road East in Morecambe after a fire on Monday night.
The scene on Marine Road East in Morecambe after a fire on Monday night.
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Neighbours have spoken of their shock after a man they knew fondly as ‘Tommy’ died in a fire in a flat on Morecambe seafront.

An investigation is under way after a blaze broke out in the ground floor flat of a four-storey building near the town hall on Marine Road East.

The scene on Marine Road East in Morecambe after a fire on Monday night.

The scene on Marine Road East in Morecambe after a fire on Monday night.

Three fire crews were called to the scene at 6.19pm on Monday after neighbours spotted smoke coming from the property and dialled 999.

Police sealed off Marine Road between Victoria Parade and the roundabout near Gala Bingo as 15 firefighters tackled the blaze.

Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the flat and found a man who paramedics later pronounced dead at the scene.

He was named locally as Tom or Tommy. A spokesman for the fire service said they are working with the police to determine the cause of the blaze.

The spokesman said: “The building was not gutted, the fire clearly hadn’t engulfed the building.”

One neighbour was still being treated for smoke inhalation in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on Tuesday after going into the building to check if anybody else was trapped.

A man from one of the flats was out at the time, but another man and a woman were safely evacuated from their properties.

Neighbour John Oates, 75, lives in the ground floor flat next door to where the fire started.

He was out when the blaze broke out, and returned home at about 6.40pm to find smoke

pouring from the property.

He said: “Everyone was outside and the road was blocked by all the fire engines and police cars.

“All the neighbours were in the street and I could see that the windows in Tom’s flat had shattered.”

Mr Oates said the man used a wheelchair and had a carer who visited three times a day.

“I’d known Tommy for a few years, it’s such a shock,” he added.

Another neighbour said Tom had lived in the flat for several years.

They said: “We are all in shock, it’s such an awful thing to happen.”

Some of the neighbours were allowed back into their homes at 7pm once the smoke had cleared, although those living in the flats directly above the fire remained evacuated and were this week staying with relatives.

The man had not been formally identified as the Visitor went to press.