Neighbours have paid tribute to a grandfather-of-two who died in a horrific blaze at his home.
Former Lancashire Police worker Richard Sellers, 84, known to his family and friends as Sam, died at the home in Cage Lane, Penwortham, which he shared with his daughter, son-in-law and their two children.
Firefighters were called to the detached home at 10.36am on Thursday by a neighbour, who saw black smoke coming from inside.
Mr Sellers, who lived in a ‘granny flat’ extension to the property, was pronounced dead at the scene.
One neighbour, John Wareing, 76, said he worked at Lancashire Police headquarters at the same time as Mr Sellers, who worked in the motorbike unit in the 1970s and 80s.
He said: “It is a terrible shame. He was a lovely fellow. We always used to have a chat. He was very amicable.”
Another neighbour said: “Up until a couple of years ago, he was a really fit and healthy bloke. He had some trouble with his eyesight and then deteriorated slowly. He was registered blind. He was always a smart bloke and physically fit until recently.”
Fire investigators continue to probe the reasons behind the blaze. The fire was initially declared potentially suspicious because, when fire crews arrived, the back patio door was open around 18 inches.
However, that was ruled out the following day. Firefighters said they would be checking for any smoking materials which could have started the blaze.
Mr Sellers is believed to have lived at the home in Cage Lane for around 30 years, but the extension was built and his daughter Elizabeth Sellers-King and son-in-law Paul King moved into the main house as his health started to fail several years ago.
As well as being registered blind, he is also believed to have had Alzheimer’s.
Care workers visited him daily and had been in the house to see him at around 9.20am, just over an hour before the fire was reported.
Two fire crews from Bamber Bridge and a crew from Leyland were sent to the home.
Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus went inside and Mr Sellers’ dog, which was also inside, was rescued.
Graham Knowles, the incident commander from Penwortham fire station, said: “On arrival, the crews were met by a neighbour who told them there was a gentleman at the back of the house.”
Mr Knowles said a rescue attempt was not made because the neighbour was in distress and the man in the house was “beyond rescue.”
One neighbour who saw the smoke said: “It is unbelievable. We have had the police, fire service and ambulance here. All I saw was a load of black smoke going across the fields. I was wondering what was going on, so I went out and smoke was pouring out. My next door neighbour was there and he said, ‘I think it’s Sam’s.’
“My wife used to talk to him all the time. I can’t believe it.”
Another neighbour said: “The first I knew of it was when I saw the smoke. He has been a neighbour for well over 30 years. He has been a good neighbour.”
There was extensive damage to the ‘granny flat’ extension, but minimal damage to the main house.