UPDATE: Search for missing person in Saffron Walden fatal house fire continues

PUBLISHED: 14:24 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 22:04 31 May 2010

AN investigation will shortly be underway to find the cause of a Saffron Walden house fire which killed two pensioners – while the search is still for a third person who is still unaccounted for. A 70-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman have been confir

AN investigation will shortly be underway to find the cause of a Saffron Walden house fire which killed two pensioners - while the search is still for a third person who is still unaccounted for.

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. A third person, thought to be a relative, is missing.

Fire crews from Saffron Walden, Newport and Thaxted were called to the scene at 8.40am this morning. 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A gas leak hampered the search and crews were withdrawn from the building as it was structurally unsafe.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 remain blocked off to the motorists.

ECFRS' Urban Search and Rescue team, mobilised from Lexden, has been working frantically to make the building safe for crews to go back inside.

That search is now back on, although senior divisional officer Julian Ashley said it could take "three to four hours", particularly given the damage and the difficulties of searching the property's basement.

A joint police and fire service investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire.

Meanwhile, residents have been giving their reaction to the incident.

Mill Lane resident Peter Watson, 77, told the Reporter :"I heard sirens and didn't really realise what was going on at first so I carried on eating my breakfast. But when the fire engine pulled onto our street I came outside and saw really thick black smoke pouring out of number 15. It was very foggy so it was hard to tell what was happening."

Upon hearing that people had died inside, he added: "I am in a state of complete shock. Going in such a way is horrific thing to happen.

"I know they were an elderly couple so it is very sad. I moved here in 1963 and have never seen anything like this.


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