A man has died following a fire at his home in Horsham despite desperate efforts by a neighbour to save him.
Engineer John Major tried unsuccessfully to break down his neighbour’s front door after he and his wife Lynn spotted flames leaping from the man’s bedroom window following a ‘muffled explosion.’
Fire crews had to break a glass panel to get into the house of the victim - named locally as Chris Fry - when they arrived at the scene in Wood End, Roffey, shortly after 6 pm on Friday.
Forty-eight-year-old Mr Fry was rushed to East Surrey Hospital following the blaze and was later transferred to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, where he died last Wednesday.
Shocked next door neighbour John Major told how he and his wife Lynn first discovered the fire.
“We heard a muffled explosion at about tea time which rattled the doors a bit. It was unusual. It sounded like someone shutting their car boot very hard.
“Lynn looked out the back and then went to the front of the house. She came straight back and said ‘It’s on fire’.
“I asked her to call 999. I put my shoes on and went out and started banging on the door and tried to barge it down, but it wouldn’t move.
“I was calling out to him in the street ‘Get out of the house’.”
He said that “it seemed like an age, but the firemen arrived quite quickly. There were flames coming out the the window upstairs at the front.”
He said the fire crew also had trouble trying to break down the door and had to resort to breaking a glass panel at the side of it to get inside.
John and his wife were evacuated from their home while firefighters checked their property to make sure the fire had not spread.
Meanwhile Mr Fry was helped from his home.
“We weren’t aware that he was badly burnt because he walked out eventually,” said John, who was shocked to hear Mr Fry had later died.
“We had lived next door for about 10-12 years,” said John, “but he seemed content to keep himself to himself.”
Police forensic scientists taped off the house and spent most of Saturday at the scene.
He said other neighbours to the semi detached property were all out at the time of the fire.
A police spokesman said later: “Police and fire officers are treating the fire as arson, but are not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident.
“The matter has now been passed to the coroner’s officer.”