A PENSIONER died after a fire broke out in his garage, despite desperate attempts by neighbours to save his life.
Exploding bottles broke against walls in the garage workshop of the victim’s home in Highlands Road, Fareham, on Sunday afternoon as smoke and flames poured out.
Despite a woman pulling the 84-year-old from the blaze, the OAP died in hospital. It is believed that he had tried to douse the flames with a garden hose.
Shocked neighbours have paid tribute to the victim and spoken of the dramatic rescue bid.
Steve Thomas, 49, of Whiteley, was driving with his wife Becci visiting his parents nearby when he saw the smoke from the garage.
He said: ‘It was horrific, absolutely awful.
There was a woman who had pulled the guy from the garage and got the garden hose out and basically put him outSteve Thomas
‘My parents live in Frosthole Crescent, we were just going up there for Easter afternoon.
‘We saw the smoke coming out of what we thought was the house.
‘We pulled up outside the house, there were two young girls who had called the emergency services.
‘There was a woman who had pulled the guy from the garage.
‘All his clothes, everything, had burned off when I got there.
‘There were explosions from the garage.
‘He was trying to talk to us, saying his wife was in the house.
‘There was a phone number in the window, we rang and it was the daughter’s number, she was able to give us the number to the keypad to get in.
‘It was like something out of a horror film.
‘The woman who was there, she ran into the fire to pull him out, it was amazing.
‘She got taken away with smoke inhalation and was very badly shaken.
‘The kids next door were young – they managed to ring the services, they were probably 13 or 14.
‘It was like glass jars that were firing up and smashing against the walls and the smoke and the flames, it was a massive fire.’
The blaze happened at 4.10pm in Highlands Road, Fareham, on Sunday.
The pensioner was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital and died at 12.45am on Monday.
Neighbour Dee Moxley said: ‘I was watching the Boat Race on television when I saw what I thought at first was a bonfire in the house over the road.
‘As I watched, the smoke got thicker and thicker and it erupted into flames.
‘It really was very dramatic. There were lots of people outside, and the fire brigade. There were people being comforted.
‘It’s such a sad thing to happen. I really do feel for his family.’
Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said the death has shocked the community.
‘He was a lovely old man,’ said the neighbour. ‘We always said hello whenever I passed by. He was always in the garage tinkering around. In fact he spent quite some time doing it up.
‘I believe he was a cabinet maker by trade and also spent a lot of time working on cars.
‘It’s very sad. He was very well liked because he was very pleasant to talk to.’
Julia Bradbury, of Green Walk, saw the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance land in the field behind her house, known as Apple Trees.
She said: ‘We heard all the sirens from the emergency vehicles and then the helicopter.
‘Everyone is in shock. It’s such a dreadful thing to happen. It’s very sad.’
Hampshire police is investigating the incident but it is not being treated as suspicious.