THE body of an 80-year-old man who died in a fire at his Chipping Campden cottage was so badly damaged by the blaze that he had to be identified by DNA, a coroner has heard.

Gordon Thompson, of Little Hay, Westington, was found dead in his burnt out home on December 27 after three-quarters of the house was destroyed and the roof collapsed.

Firefighters from Campden, Moreton, Broadway and Pebworth attended the blaze along with a number of special appliances and supporting crews from Cheltenham but nothing could be done to save Mr Thompson who was found after a long search of the house.

Assistant Gloucestershire coroner Katy Skerrett opened an inquest into his death on Monday and adjourned it until Sunday, July 20.

Coroner's officer Terry Onions said "He lived alone. The fire service were called to his address on December 27. He was discovered in the lounge of the house.

"I think there has been a delay in opening the inquest since then because of identification problems. Identification was done in the end by DNA/blood comparison.

"A post mortem examination has been carried out but the cause of death is yet to be ascertained pending the results of histology tests, "I understand the body was somewhat disrupted by the fire."

Mr Thompson's two cats also perished in the blaze.

Next door neighbour Jennifer Sutton said at the time of the tragedy that Mr Thompson had lived alone since his wife died some time ago.

"I knew him well. They moved here at least 14 or 15 years ago," she said.

Mrs Sutton said he had kept a large number of books and it was clear that many of them had been destroyed in the blaze.