TRIBUTES have been paid to a woman who died in a fire.
Firefighters were called to a blaze on the first floor of a home in Edgell Road in Westbourne at about 11.20am on Saturday.
A woman in her late-20s, named locally as Gemma Bishop, was brought out by firefighters but died as the result of her injuries. Neighbours said she was a mother.
Police and specialists from West Sussex Fire and Rescue spent much of the rest of the day examining the scene.
The semi-detached property and its immediate neighbour was cordoned off throughout the weekend.
Louise Jacobs, 28, who lives across the street, said: ‘We’ve known each since we were at Chichester High School together, and recently she’s been working with my mum, so she’s always around here, popping in and out for a coffee.
‘She has been a good friend for years, she was so bubbly, really sweet. She wouldn’t hurt a fly.
‘She was lovely. I can’t believe this has happened. Both our mums have grand mal epilepsy and we were in the same form at school, so we bonded over that, really.’
Neighbour Marie Barber, 75, told how the tragedy unfolded.
She said: ‘I heard a scream, but there’s always children playing out here so I thought it was kids playing outside at first. I went outside and the smoke was horrendous. I’ve never seen anything like it.
‘They brought her out and laid her on the garden. She was there for a good 15 minutes with people giving her CPR and trying to revive her but it was too long.
‘Everyone was racing around. I’ve never seen so many police and firefighters in all my life.
‘It’s absolutely terrible.’
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: ‘We’ve had the forensics around here all day, searching the front gardens and everything.
‘They’ve thoroughly swept the place, under cars, under flowerpots, everywhere.
‘I think everyone around here is just in shock at the moment.’
Two crews from Havant, as well as the retained crew from Emsworth, were among the six crews who responded to the 999 call.
A spokesman for West Sussex Police said: ‘Police are treating the death as unexplained and are not looking for anyone else in relation to this incident,’
‘A man was briefly arrested in relation to the incident but was released without further action.’