Barnsbury house fire death: neighbours in desperate efforts to save man, 86
- Credit: Archant
Neighbours today told how they broke down an elderly man’s front door in a frantic attempt to free him from his burning home.
Medics battled to save 86-year-old Raymond Lister after he was rescued from his Barnsbury house in the early hours of Sunday morning, but the pensioner died at the scene.
Friends in Ripplevale Grove, where he had lived since the 1970s, today described Mr Lister as a “great neighbour”. Police are treating his death as “unexplained”.
Mr Lister, a retired print setter who worked at The Times, lived on his own. He is said to have left behind one daughter.
Etienne Tegtmeier, who lives next door, was the first person to alert the emergency services after smelling smoke.
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He told the Gazette this morning: “We got home at about 11.10pm on Saturday. We had a coffee and could smell what we thought to be coal fire: the wind was strong so we thought it was from the fireplace.
“We went to bed about 11.40pm and watched a bit of TV, but we could smell it getting stronger and stronger. I went outside and noticed his light was on, which was strange because he always went to bed early.
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“I saw smoke coming out of the window so I knew something was up. We banged frantically on his door and I could see smoke coming down the stairs through the letter box.
“We knocked the door down, got into the house and called up to him but there was no answer. By that time, there was lots of smoke so we called 999. They did CPR on him for about 45 minutes outside.”
The fire, said to have started in Mr Lister’s first-floor bedroom, was under control by 1.50am.
Mr Tegtmeier, 40, a florist who has lived next door to Mr Lister since 2002, added: “I only saw him on Friday. He had just been to the shops and was his usual chipper self.
“He told me to be careful riding my bike. He was such a lovely guy. You never saw him unhappy. He was a great neighbour.”
Meg Griffith, who also lives nearby, said: “We smelt smoke at about 10.30pm, but we thought it was a fire. We woke up at about 11.50pm which was when we realised what was happening.
“It was a big shock. He was in this street for years. He was very popular, outgoing, positive and would always have time for you if you passed him in the street, He was 86 but looked a lot younger.”
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