The fire service has stressed the importance for residents to have a working smoke alarm after an elderly man died as a result of a fire at his Selsey home.
Lewis Carson phoned the fire brigade when he could smell smoke coming from his neighbour’s flat at George House, Manor Road on March 31. Firefighters were called to the property at 1pm and forced entry into the home.
A small fire in the kitchen area had already been put out but the elderly homeowner was found dead in his bedroom.
Mr Carson said: “I stood at my door watching the firefighters go through the kitchen and into this man’s bedroom. It was clear he had passed away.”
He added: “I had only seen him a few times. He was a private man.”
The flat had a smoke alarm but it was discovered to have no battery in.
A spokeswoman for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “We can’t emphasise enough the importance of having a smoke alarm. It gives you a few extra minutes of warning should a fire occur.
“A smoke alarm without batteries is useless and just a bit of plastic on the ceiling. Certainly people should check their smoke alarms. There will be people heading to a DIY shop this Easter weekend, why not pick up a smoke alarm?”
The identity of the deceased man has not been released by police at the time of the Observer going to press. Police worked with fire investigators to establish the cause of the fire which is now regarded as being non-suspicious.
The man is believed to have died of smoke inhalation. The coroner’s officer is continuing enquiries, and said there would be a post-mortem and inquest in due course.
As a response to the incident, fire crews will be returning to Manor Road to give safety demonstrations and advice to residents in the area.
Further safety information is available from West Sussex fire brigade on 0800 328 6487.