An elderly couple died in a house blaze in Staffordshire just hours before thousands of firefighters walk out in a strike over pensions.
The couple, named locally as Peter Goffe, 86, and his wife Beryl, 85, died in what is believed to be an accidental fire in their home in Stone.
An MP today said the tragedy should not strike fear in the public and insisted necessary cover was in place today.
Fire crews were called to the Lichfield Road house in Stone by the couple’s daughter at 6.20pm yesterday.
Firefighters were the first to arrive at the scene followed by paramedics.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service incident commander Neil Burton said: “Our crews arrived at 6.23pm after we were called by the daughter of the couple. She raised the alarm after she came to visit and found smoke at the property.
“Two crews from Stone attended the incident. They used breathing gear and brought out two casualties one male and one female.
“Efforts were made to resuscitate them, but our efforts were unsuccessful and they were declared dead at the scene.”
Mr Burton said there were smoke detectors installed at the property.
Motorists were diverted from the area after the emergency services closed the B5027 Lichfield Road while the fire was tackled at the large detached house near the junctions of Priory Road and The Redlands.
Residents living nearby say they were stunned to learn of the tragedy.
Business and IT student Andy Smith, aged 18, and also of Copeland Drive, said: “I’m really shocked. Our hearts go out to the family at this sad time.”
Today’s four-hour fire service strike takes place across England and Wales and is about a row over pensions
Staffordshire and West Midland fire crews have contingency plans to provide cover and 999 calls will be answered.
In a poll on the website, 86 per cent of readers supported the strike action.
Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford, said: “Last night’s fire shouldn’t make people scared about the firefighters’ strike. Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have taken necessary precautions that all 999 calls will be answered.
“They have assured me they will have the necessary cover. I raised this with the service some time ago.
“While I am disappointed with the strike, to some extent the Fire Brigades Union are taking a responsible approach.
“It’s at a time when the fewest fires are likely to happen.
“The public should be completely reassured all emergencies will be covered.”
- Follow live updates from the firefighters' strike from 11:30am this morning.
Insp Michael Eyre, of Staffordshire Police, said officers closed the road while the fire crews tackled the blaze.
“Sadly, the two occupants, an elderly man and woman, were pronounced dead at the scene,” he added. “Their immediate family have been informed and are currently being offered support.
“A joint investigation to determine the cause of the fire is now under way.”
West Midlands Ambulance Service attended the scene and said crews arrived to find firefighters carrying out CPR on two people who had been brought out of the smoke-filled property.
Spokeswoman Suzie Fothergill added: “Ambulance crews immediately assessed the patients but sadly it quickly became apparent that nothing could be done to save the man and the woman and they were confirmed deceased at the scene.”
A senior Stone councillor spoke of his sorrow at the tragedy and said it highlighted the importance of the fire service at a pertinent time. Councillor Ian Parry, deputy leader of Staffordshire County Councillor and ward member for Stafford-Stone Rural, said: “This incident clearly demonstrates the importance of the fire service.
“We do have a great fire service and we’re proud of that fact.
“We have to be aware this [strike] puts an element of unnecessary risk among the public.
“We have in place public protection plans to back up but nothing replaces a fully functioning fire service.”
Leave your tributes to Peter and Beryl Goffe in the comments below. Discussion of the incident will not be published: