NEIGHBOURS of a Wigan man killed in a house fire have spoken of their shock and horror after discovering he died just hours after being in their flat.
Firefighters were called to Columbus Street in Ashton at 4.30am where they had to rescue two men from a burning building.
Both were taken to Wigan Infirmary but it was later confirmed that one of the men, believed to be in his 50s, died while in hospital.
Police have refused to reveal his identity with neighbours saying they simply knew him as Patrick.
Just hours before his death, he had been with neighbours at the home of Barbara Ramsdale and Anthony Robinson.
The couple say that Patrick spent time drinking in their flat on Wednesday night before returning home. Hours later, they watched on in horror as firefighters tried to rescue him and another man from the first floor flat.
Ms Ramsdale, 46, says the first she knew of the blaze was when she went for a cigarette in the early hours.
“I woke up for a smoke and just saw all these fire engines outside,” she said.
“I was in a deep sleep so didn’t see the fire itself but all the windows were gutted.
“It was a big shock.
“Patrick was here with us last night having a drink. I’ve not known him long but he seemed a nice bloke.”
Ms Ramsdale’s fiance Mr Robinson added: “I spoke to Patrick every now and then when he put the bins out.
“He was here before it happened. We only knew him for a few weeks but would speak to him now and then through the window.”
Fire crews from both Wigan and Hindley attended the blaze. Although the cause of the fire has not been confirmed, it is not being treated as suspicious.
Station manager Ben Levy, who was in charge of the incident, said: “Firefighters were faced with a well-developed fire in a first floor flat.
“Flames and smoke were coming from the windows and four firefighters in breathing apparatus led one man to safety and rescued another man from the bedroom of the property.
“The man who was rescued from the bedroom was given oxygen therapy and CPR by a GMFRS Trauma Technician and rushed to Wigan Infirmary, but despite our best efforts he has since died.
“The crews did an excellent job in tackling the fire and our control operators gave the man we led to safety live-saving advice while he was on the phone to them.
“A GMFRS fire investigation officer has been at the scene investigating the cause of the fire and it is not thought to be suspicious.”
Firefighters spent yesterday morning visiting nearby homes and offering fire safety advice to local residents.
Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority Cllr David Acton, said: “Our staff have been in the area all day carrying out Home Safety Checks and reassuring residents.
“If one of our firefighters or community safety advisors knocks on your door please invite them in they can help you avoid the devastating consequences of a fire in your home.
“For a free Home Safety Check please phone our contact centre on 0800 555 815 or visit www.manchesterfire.gov.uk.”