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Plymouth pensioner, 76, dies as fire engulfs garage in Plymstock

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 13, 2012

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A pensioner died when a blaze tore through the garage at his home.

The 76-year-old man, named locally as Raymond Jenkins, is believed to have perished as flames engulfed the outbuilding.

The man's wife and son were taken to hospital for treatment following the fire which started at about 11.30am yesterday.

Fire crews from Plymstock, Plympton, Greenbank and Crownhill were all called to Furzehatt Park Road, Plymstock after worried neighbours saw plumes of thick black smoke pour from the detached garage.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the blaze inside the garage, which was made more dangerous due to a suspected corrugated asbestos roof, unidentified materials inside the building and a caravan parked outside the door.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said when she first smelled smoke she thought a neighbour was having a bonfire in their garden.

Then she noticed a clod of smoke billowing from the corner of the nearby garage.

She said: "I went running out and shouted out 'shall I call the fire brigade?' and I heard a voice groaning 'yes'. I shouted back 'are you alright?' and this voice said 'yes' again.

"I called the fire brigade and by then the smoke was just so thick. Then the flames came leaping up out of the roof of the garage.

"It just got blacker and blacker and blacker. When the fire brigade came, you could hardly see them."

Another neighbour, 71-year-old John Jerffery, said the corrugated roofs of the garages in the area were made with asbestos.

He said: "You know the sound of it when it burns, it's a cracking sound. When I went to look out, you couldn't see across the road or up the road because the smoke was so thick.

"It was unbelievable. It smelled toxic, like plastic burning.

"You could hear the fire, police and ambulance arrive, hear their sirens, but the smoke was so thick you couldn't even see them.

"At one point you could hear firefighters shouting to each other as they edged down the road, then you'd suddenly see them emerge like from the fog. It was unreal.

"We all kept back, because not only was the smoke dangerous, but we knew they had the caravan in front of the garage, and there could've been gas bottles in there as well."

The road was closed for around five hours as firefighters and police examined the bungalow and garage. Scene of Crime Officers in white forensic suits, working alongside their counterparts in the fire service, were seen entering the property.

Shortly after 2.30pm coroner's staff arrived in a white van and removed the body.

Insp Pete Thomas, of Devon and Cornwall Police said the 76-year-old male resident died at the scene.

Insp Thomas said the deceased man's son was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene by paramedics before being taken to Derriford Hospital.

The deceased man's wife was also taken to hospital and both were kept in overnight for observation.

Insp Thomas said the fire was "non-suspicious", adding: "The source of the fire is not yet known and the cause of death is not confirmed. Fire investigators will take the lead assisted by CID officers to complete a coroner's file. Scene of Crime Officers attended also as it is classified as a sudden death."

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