Third Saffron Walden house fire death ruled out

PUBLISHED: 08:02 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 22:04 31 May 2010

FEARS that a third person had died in a house fire in Saffron Walden on Friday have been quashed. A 70-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman have been confirmed dead following the blaze at the semi-detached property in Mill Lane. It was believed a third p

FEARS that a third person had died in a house fire in Saffron Walden on Friday have been quashed.

A 70-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman have been confirmed dead following the blaze at the semi-detached property in Mill Lane. It was believed a third person, thought to be a relative, may have also been in the property.

However, after a further search of the property, assistant divisional officer Stuart McMillan confirmed that everyone had now been accounted for.

The search had been delayed overnight, but started again on Saturday morning at 9.30am when firefighters found several hotspots and spent some time turning over and damping down.

The search was concluded at 10.50am.

The fire broke out on Friday morning and fire crews from Saffron Walden, Newport and Thaxted were called to the scene at 8.40am.

A fire service spokesman said the first floor of the semi-detached house was "well alight" on arrival but the fire then spread to the roof of the two-storey building, while smoke damage ripped through neighbouring properties. As many as 10 nearby properties were evacuated.

A gas leak hampered the search and crews were withdrawn from the building as it was structurally unsafe. Mill Lane and parts of adjacent Ashdon Road were blocked off to the pedestrians and motorists.

ECFRS' Urban Search and Rescue team, mobilised from Lexden, worked to make the building safe for crews to go back inside. The building was deemed safe shortly before 2.30pm. However, firefighters searched for several hours as they had to sift through "considerable debris" in the final room, according to senior divisional officer Julian Ashley. Essex fire and rescue teams called off the search at 4pm on Friday evening.

By Saturday afternoon a fire investigation officer was still on site working with police, who are now managing the scene.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

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