A joint police and fire investigation has been launched after an elderly couple were found dead in their blazing home.
The fire happened just yards from St James’ CE Primary School and parents were taking their children to school as smoke billowed out of the semi-detached property on Devonport Way, Chorley, yesterday morning.
Fire crews from Chorley, Bamber Bridge and Horwich rushed to the scene amid reports people were still inside.
Four firefighters equipped with hosereels and breathing apparatus went into the house at around 8.45am.
They then discovered the deceased - a local couple - inside, said Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
The woman has been named locally as Marion Curwen, 88, and the man as her partner.
Peter Speakman, 77, who lives opposite the semi-detached property, said: “I saw the smoke coming out, then the fire people going in with the breathing apparatus.
“I I saw lights flashing and the fire engine was there. There were three ambulances and police.
“When the fire people are going in with breathing apparatus and they’re not bringing nobody out.
“I asked the ambulance people ‘are they okay’ and they said ‘no’.
“It’s terrible really. They’ve lived there for over there 30 years, their children were there when they first came there.
“She used to do all the shopping every morning. I’ve not seen him for quite a while, only stood at the door.”Another neighbour, whose house backs on to the property, said she knew the couple.
Mary Pearson, 70, said: “We always talked. I’ve known them seven years. She was a very nice woman, she used to go to the shops every day, even at the age she was, she was eighty-odd.
“They were a very nice couple really.”
She added: “I saw the smoke coming out of the back door. There was no windows, no back door open and smoke coming out, but I didn’t hear a fire alarm going off.
“By the time I’ve got my coat on to go round there, someone had gone into the house through the front.
“It was a shock, especially for the neighbour next door because she loved her.
“It’s upsetting because she was a very nice neighbour.”
A joint investigation has been launched by the Police and the Fire Services and a post-mortem examination will take place to try to establish the exact cause of death, say police.
Richard Edney, spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue said: “We were called to a house fire at 8.45am this morning. Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used hose-reels and ventilation units to enter the property and extinguish the fire.
“They unfortunately found an elderly couple deceased inside.
“We are keeping an open mind regarding the cause of the fire.”
A police spokesman added: “We were called by the Fire Service at around 8.50am to reports of a fire at an address on Devonport Way.
“Sadly, an elderly couple were found deceased inside the property. A post mortem examination will take place in due course to try to establish the exact cause of death.
“We are working alongside the Fire Service to establish the cause of the fire.”