Hailsham house fire victim identified

A GRANDMOTHER who died in a house fire reported in the Sussex Express last week has been identified.

More than 20 firefighters battled the blaze in West End, Herstmonceux, but were unable to save the woman, who has been named as Audrey Harris.

Neighbours fled their homes at around 2pm on February 22 and watched as fire crews from Hailsham, Battle and Bexhill managed to contain the intense fire.

Resident Kate McCully, who was in one of the nearby homes, said: “At 2pm I got a knock from one of neighbours who told me to get out of the house.

“There was black smoke billowing from the house and it looked quite bad. The fire brigade had been called but they hadn’t arrived at that time. The door was open and someone had tried to get into the house but the flames and the smoke were too much. The front window had just collapsed in on itself, and there was smoke billowing out of windows, the chimney, the front door and vents at the side of the house.”

Neighbours also reported hearing a loud explosion from the front room of the house and said the damage to the room indicated that was where the blaze begun. The firefighters arrived at about 2.10pm and managed to get Mrs Harris out of the house but she died at the scene. It is understood Mrs Harris was in her 80s and lived in the house with her husband Phil.

Sussex Police kept an officer outside the property overnight and fire accident investigators were at the house during Thursday (February 23) afternoon. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have not revealed how the fire was started. But Sussex Police have confirmed the incident is not being treated as suspicious.

A tribute was paid to Audrey Harris by parish pump correspondent Dianne Green and her husband Terry: “The hearts and the thoughts of the village go out to you Phil and your family at this very sad time.”