INVESTIGATORS have been sifting through the burnt-out wreckage of a flat to uncover how a fatal blaze claimed the life of a man in his 70s.
The tragedy happened shortly after midnight on Wednesday, at Hale Court, in Fratton Road, Fratton.
More than 20 firefighters were scrambled to the blazing ground floor property inside the sheltered accommodation block.
The inferno claimed the life of an unidentified man in the flat, who was pronounced dead at the scene, with another woman in the block needing hospital treatment for smoke inhalation.
But a mystery remains as to how the fire ignited after police ruled out foul play being the cause.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said the man was 70 and South Coast Ambulance Service said paramedics treated a 50-year-old woman.
A team of specialists from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were yesterday seen at the property hunting for clues.
It comes as residents living inside Hale Court revealed how they were left in fearing the fire would spread and engulf the 80-flat property.
One 54-year-old woman, who lives in the court with her husband and asked not to be named, said: ‘I was scared and frightened. We didn’t know whether the fire was going to travel up onto our floor. I wasn’t sure how we could get out.
‘We were never told to evacuate, we were just told to say in our flat. It was very scary.’
As reported, four fire crews from Southsea and a team from Cosham deployed to the scene, shortly after 12.15am.
Access was blocked off to Fratton Road, with cordons in place in the street and adjoining roads near Hale Court. Police and ambulance crews were also in attendance.
Chantelle Lee lives opposite the sheltered accommodation and has relatives living in Hale Court.
The 32-year-old barmaid said: ‘I was worried about my aunt and uncle as they live on the middle floor of Hale Court.
‘I spoke to them and they told me a resident had died on the ground floor. It wasn’t very nice to hear at all.
‘They said the flat down the corridor was completely black and cordoned off. They guy’s walker was outside – all the plastic on it had melted.’
Portsmouth City Council manages the flats. A spokesman said: ‘We're working closely with police and the fire service during the investigation of this tragic incident, and have been supporting the family of the deceased, as well as members of staff involved in responding.’
A spokesman from Hampshire police added: ‘The death of the man, aged in his 70s, is not being treated as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the coroner.
‘The man’s next of kin have been informed.’
The fire service confirmed an investigation has started and said crews from Southsea, Cosham and Portchester attended the blaze.
Hale Court was built in 1984. The building includes a range of one, two and three-bedroom flats.