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Elderly man dies in Cawsand house fire, Cornwall

  • 8-5-2015

A 79-year-old "housebound" man has died in what is believed to have been an accidental bungalow fire.

The building's concrete roof collapsed on Friday afternoon in Cawsand, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said.

All three emergency services were called to Polsporder Place but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

A neighbour has described feeling "useless" after he crawled into the room the man was in to save him but could not.

Paul White said he was alerted by people shouting and ran outside from his home to see flames and smoke "pouring out the windows" of the bungalow.

Three fire engines were sent from Torpoint and Saltash after several people made 999 calls.

"I knew the chap was still in there 'cause he's housebound," he said.

Mr White described how he crawled into the bungalow and tried to rescue his neighbour, but had to retreat as he struggled to breathe.

"I went back in. I felt pretty useless because I couldn't get at him. By then the room was probably 60% on fire. Again I was forced back because of the smoke.

"Came back outside, within five minutes the whole house was on fire. Fifteen minutes later it was gutted," he said.

Mr White, who works with the Merchant Navy, added: "A lot of people felt like I do, frustrated that we couldn't do nothing. A lot of people were upset, were hurt.

"I feel useless. We tried," he said.

David Carlisle, station commander of Penzance fire station, said "of course there is some travel time to rural communities but the crews got here exceptionally quickly... two minutes after the crews were here unfortunately the roof did collapse in".

An investigation is taking place to establish how the fire started.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC

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