Residents have described how they battled in vain to save their neighbour from a deadly house fire in Doncaster.
The man, named locally as Ronnie Taylor, died in the blaze at his home on Church Road, Denaby.
Neighbour Audrey Setters, aged 53, said she and her husband Gary were in their living room when they noticed some smoke coming from the direction of Mr Taylor’s house on Sunday, at about 7pm. She said: “At first we didn’t think anything of it, as Ronnie used to burn a bit of rubbish in the back garden sometimes.
“Then we went to get the washing and we saw black smoke coming out of one of the downstairs windows.
“My husband phoned 999 straight away because we knew it was serious.
“It was weird because we never saw any flames, just lots and lots of black smoke.”
After phoning the emergency services, the couple went to the front of the property, just as Mr Taylor’s friend arrived home.
The man, known to Mrs Setters as Joey, kicked down the front door to the house and attempted to enter the property.
She said: “My husband went with him, but there was so much black smoke he told him to come back, there was no way either of them were getting in.
“Joey didn’t say much after that – I think he was in shock.”
Emergency services arrived at the scene shortly after. Mrs Setters said: “The firefighters went in and brought Ronnie out shortly after. They put up a screen so we couldn’t see anything, but paramedics were working on him here for a good while before they took him to hospital,” said Mrs Setters.
Paying tribute to Mr Taylor she said: “He was a right character – he had a lot of mates and he was always having people come over to the house.
“He was one of those people that everybody knew to say hello to.
“I only saw him on Friday. He was sitting on his front step and we said hello when I walked past.
“I didn’t know him really well, but I first got to know him when I was in my twenties through my brothers. I’m a Denaby girl and he was a Denaby boy. It was a coincidence we ended up living on the same street.”
A South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue spokesman said crews arrived to find the smoke-logged house engulfed in flames.
Firefighters found Mr Taylor, aged in his 60s, unconscious upstairs.
A joint fire and police investigation into the circumstances surrounding the blaze, which is believed to have started on the ground-floor of the house, has been launched.