Shock after blaze death

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A MAN has died following at fire at a St Annes flat.

The 68-year-old, named as Mike Wild, died at the scene of the blaze, on Lightburne Avenue.

Fire chiefs today said the tragedy, which is thought to have been caused by a portable gas heater, could have been averted if the flat had been fitted with a smoke alarm.

Shocked neighbours, who live in the same building, smelled toxic fumes and raised the alarm in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Walter Simcox, who lives on the bottom floor, alerted the fire brigade. He said: “A couple with a baby who live two floors above my flat banged on my door saying they could smell smoke.

“There was no alarm coming from upstairs, but we ran to the first floor, and saw some smoke pouring from Mike’s door, but it was mainly a smell of gas.

“I immediately rang the fire service, who arrived before I had even got off the phone.”

Five residents – including a couple with a baby, a female pensioner and Mr Simcox – watched as the fire crew, followed by paramedics, attempted to save Mr Wild in the driveway.

Mr Simcox added: “It was a huge shock for us all, and we were all very upset when they covered his body, as we knew he hadn’t made it.

“Mike was a lovely guy, although nobody in the building knows each other particularly well, we would always say hello in the corridor and have a brief chat.”

John Taylor, of Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said: “A crew from South Shore entered the first floor flat, rescued the man and took him outside, but sadly the man was pronounced dead at the scene. Although there was a smoke detector in the corridor of the flats, there was no smoke alarm in the man’s room. If there had been, the outcome would undoubtedly have been different.

“After a full investigation over the weekend, we discovered the cause of the fire, which was relatively small, was a portable LPG gas heater. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of not putting these heaters near clothes, or anything flammable, and especially not covering them with clothes, and having free fire safety checks.”

To arrange a safety check contact 0800 169 1125.

An inquest into Mr Wild’s death has opened.

A post-mortem was carried out at Blackpool Victoria Hospital but further tests now need to be made to determine the cause of death.

The inquest was adjourned to allow more inquiries take place.