MEMBERS of a close-knit community have paid tribute to a lady who died in a fire days before her birthday.
Alison Leverton, 53, died in the blaze which started in her ground-floor flat in Spencer Court, Stubbington.
Fire crews from Fareham, Cosham and Gosport were called after the alarm was raised at 11.23pm on Sunday.
A police cordon remained in place around the building, off Marks Road, yesterday as investigators try to establish the cause of the fire.
Neighbour Mollie Pearman, 78, said: ‘When I first moved in she came and knocked on my door to welcome me, and that was just her. She was like that, doing little things for people.’
Mollie’s son Philip Pearman was visiting from Rotherham and they both went outside when they smelt smoke. He said: ‘There was no way anyone could have gone in there. There was all this black smoke pouring out and then this big bang as the window exploded.
‘You can’t fault the fire service though, they were here very quickly and straight in.’
Carla Gauntlett, 37, of Marks Road, added: ‘She was in her own little world sometimes, but she just wanted to be friends with everyone.
‘It was her birthday this Wednesday and she was all excited about that and going shopping to buy new dresses.’
Alison, who had cerebral palsy, was also a regular at Crofton Social Club on Titchfield Road in Stubbington.
Club vice-president Barry Bucknole said: ‘She was on the committee and only retired from that about three months ago. She was mainly here on Friday and Saturday nights, she would play bingo and loved the dances.
‘She couldn’t keep up with the line-dancing, but she enjoyed sitting and watching them. She was only here on Saturday night for our disco.
‘No-one can believe what’s happened.’
Jayne Smart, 43, of Marks Road, left flowers outside Alison’s home and said: ‘She was a lovely and genuine lady.
‘We would chat in the village and she would tell me about her life. She was always smiling – it’s just so sad.’
Margaret Etherington, 81, who lives opposite, said: ‘She used to come over and have a chat – usually about once a week. It was only my birthday last week and I’ve still got the flowers she gave me.’
A woman in her 80s who lives upstairs was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham for smoke inhalation, but her condition is not believed to be serious.
Police are not treating the fire as suspicious.