More details emerge about fatal Highbury flat fire

More details have emerged about a fatal flat fire which claimed the lives of a woman and her cat on Tuesday.

The woman was found dead after firefighters were called to the blaze in Highbury Station Road, Islington, at around 1pm.

Witnesses saw thick black smoke billowing out from both sides of the ground floor flat, where the woman, who was thought to be in her 40s or 50s but has not been formally identified, lived alone with her pet.

Zinnat Khoja, 26, a charity worker, paid tribute to her neighbour. She said: “She was very welcoming when I moved in six months ago. She was quite a character but really lovable. She was eccentric in a really lovely way and was always really friendly.”

The fire brigade was called by the victim’s next door neighbour, a disabled woman in a wheelchair.

Mike Cassidy, 57, who lives a few doors down, rushed to the scene and made sure the disabled woman was OK before fire crews arrived. He said: “I came outside and could smell the smoke. It was really black, thick smoke and I knew it was the wrong kind of smoke. Whatever it was must have been smouldering in there for a long time.

“I chatted to the lady in the next door flat to make sure she was OK.”

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Police said the fire is not being treated as suspicious. The cause is still under investigation, but shopkeeper Ali Doldur, who runs nearby Your Local Express in Liverpool Road, said: “A fireman told me he thinks she was smoking and she fell asleep.”

A spokesman for the London Ambulance Service said: “We were called to reports of a fire in Highbury Station Road. Sadly one patient, believed to be a woman, was dead at the scene. We didn’t treat anybody else.”