A couple perished in a house fire in a South Yorkshire village – despite neighbours’ desperate efforts to save them.
The man and woman, named as Katherine Collard, 50, and Irwin Albers, 62, died after a blaze ripped through their mid-terrace property in Cherry Tree Street, in Elsecar.
Neighbour Marie Souter, aged 49, said she and husband Paul, also 49, went inside the property with another man to try to rescue the couple, who were trapped in the upstairs bathroom.
Mrs Souter said they tried to douse the fire with a hose pipe, but were forced back by the intense flames and smoke.
The childminder said: “We were just about the take the dog for a walk when we saw the smoke.
“A lady said she could hear screaming coming from the bathroom, so we all went around the back of the houses, but the gate was locked.
“One neighbour got an axe to break the lock and my husband put a ladder up to the window and the window went through.
“It was just too hot so they came down and we decided to break the door. A neighbour and my husband went in and went upstairs.
“Me and the lady got a hose pipe and my 12-year-old daughter, Emily, got some wet towels.
“They took the hose pipe in and I went up the stairs to give them the wet towels, both for them and for when we got the couple out.
“I was about half way up the stairs. There were so many flames and it was so hot. My husband said it looked like the ceiling was going to collapse and we should get out. Then we heard the sirens. We all came out and the firemen came and took over.
“They got the man out first. It looked like he had already died.
“I didn’t see them get the lady out, but they took her away in an ambulance.”
The mother-of-two said it was not until later that they realised how dangerous the situation was.
She said: “We didn’t think about things until afterwards and the shock hit us that we knew them and they had died. There were six of us on the back helping. We just got into gear and got on with it. I’m in disbelief it has happened.”
Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “I’ve never seen flames like it. They were so big. It’s just so awful that two people have lost their lives.”
The couple have lived in the street for less than a year.
Flowers and a teddy bear were left outside the home yesterday.
Investigating officer Andy Strelczenie, from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, said the fire started in a bed in a rear bedroom and quickly spread.
He said there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances and two smoke alarms were working at the time of the fire.