Son reveals anguish after being unable to save dad in Havant house fire

Wally Hooper
Wally Hooper

A SON who desperately battled to save his dad’s life after a fire broke out in their home revealed his anguish after being unable to rescue him.

Pensioner Walter Hooper, 86, was left trapped downstairs at his Bondfields Crescent house in Havant as flames ripped through the property on Friday morning about 6am.

Havant house fire

Havant house fire

The former RAF servicemen was heard crying out ‘help me’ before his son, Philip, who lived at the house, attempted to save him after going downstairs.

But with black smoke billowing out the windows and the blaze raging out of the building, Philip said he battled in vain to help his dad.

Philip told The News: ‘I heard him calling out “Phil, Phil, Phil” from downstairs in the lounge where he sleeps. I didn’t know there was a fire at that point and went downstairs to see what was happening.

‘When I opened the door there was thick black smoke pouring out and flames. I tried to help him but was overcome by smoke so couldn’t get to him.’

Fire crews were on scene in five minutes but could not save Walter. Philip, and Walter’s carer, who also lived at the house, were able to escape as the inferno raged through the building before it was finally brought under control.

Walter, known as ‘Wally’, had just returned to live at the house three weeks earlier having gone into a care home briefly as his health began to deteriorate due to him suffering with Parkinson’s disease.

Philip added: ‘I was lucky to get out. I would have tried anything to get my dad out, I just couldn’t get to him. The next door neighbour was brilliant, he heard what was going on and tried to save him.

‘My dad was struggling a lot more due to his Parkinson’s and couldn’t move well and needed help.’

Despite the upstairs and downstairs of the house being totally gutted, the attic was remarkably untouched. ‘That’s where all the sentimental items were kept so at least we still have them,’ Philip said.

Investigations into the cause of the fire are currently ongoing but the police are not treating it suspiciously.  

Wally’s grandson Matt Champkin, 36, said: ‘The fire started in the front room where my grandad slept but we’ve no idea what caused it, it could be electrical.’

Granddaughter Abbie, 34, added: ‘It’s a big shock.’

Residents revealed their sadness at the tragic death of highly regarded Wally. June Metherell, 70, who had been neighbours with Wally for more than a half century, said: ‘It’s so sad. It makes you sick to think of what happened. It must be very traumatic for everyone, especially with him crying out for help.

‘He was a friendly, well thought of man he would stop and talk and ask how you were. I couldn’t believe it when I woke up and saw the smoke pouring out the window and flames coming out of the front door.’

Colin Lane, 74, who would go over to Wally’s house several times a day to help out, added: ‘He came out of the care home because he was getting depressed living there. The last year he had started to go downhill. I can’t believe it. He was as good as gold.’