Shock after 'academic' elderly man dies in fire

Cotswold Journal: Police sealed off the house in Campden Police sealed off the house in Campden

NEIGHBOURS have spoken of their shock after an elderly man died in a house fire in Chipping Campden.

Named locally as Gordon Thompson, neighbours have described the dead man as friendly and academic with two pet cats.

Firefighters from Campden, Moreton, Broadway and Pebworth attended the blaze in Conduit Hill, Westington, at 7.30am on Saturday.

They remained at the scene well into the evening after three-quarters of the house was destroyed and the roof collapsed.

A number of special appliances and supporting crews from Cheltenham also attended but nothing could be done to save the 80-year-old who was found after a long search of the house.

Good friend and neighbour Jacqueline Perry, aged 78, who had known him ever since he moved into the house with his late wife 15 years ago, said they were alerted to the fire by the police.

“There was smoke pouring up from the middle of the roof. It had just disappeared,”

she said. “There’s nothing left – it’s just a shell.  It’s very sad.

“He was a friend. We were very fond of him. We’ve got other neighbours here who knew him and liked him very much.

“What’s alarming is the fire could have been burning for a long while before anyone noticed it.

It’s dreadfully sad.”

Mrs Perry said Mr Gordon was very academic and was in the middle of writing a book about Shakespeare.

“All the work will have gone up in smoke. It’s very sad,” she said.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “He was a very likable man.

Although he was friendly to us, he kept himself to himself. He was a great book man. I think the greenhouse was stacked full of books.”

Neighbour Christopher Bell, 55, said: “There was a lot of smoke. It was a shock.”

Simon Masters, spokesman for Gloucestershire Police, said: “Emergency services were called and after a long search the body of the 80-year-old occupant was found in the house. Police are not treating the fire as suspicious.”

Neighbours said that Mr Gordon leaves behind a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

Meanwhile, fire crews were called at 3.45pm on Sunday to a second fire in the town which broke out in the roof of a flat above the White Rose bridal boutique in the High Street.

Crews from Campden, Moreton, Stow and Cheltenham attended the blaze along with assistance from Broadway and Pebworth.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service said a large area of the first and second floor was damaged.

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