An elderly woman died in a ferocious blaze that destroyed the home where she cared for her sick brother.
The victim, who has not been formally identified but was named locally as Joyce Williams, lost her life as the fire ravaged the terraced property on Westbourne Place, in Beeston, Leeds, on Saturday night.
Neighbour Sarah Mellor, 36, said she had been friends with Ms Williams since moving to the street three years ago.
“She was like a grandma to me,” she said. “She was very quiet, but she was always really polite and really lovely and spent most of her time looking after her brother.
“I haven’t slept, I’m absolutely devastated.”
It is understood the house where the fire happened belonged to Ms Williams’s brother, Donald Kinghorn.
Miss Mellor said Mr Kinghorn had been taken to hospital shortly before the incident for treatment to long-term health problems. Ms Williams, who is thought to have been in her eighties, lived in her own house two doors away on the same street, but spent much of her time looking after Mr Kinghorn at his home.
Neighbours had heard a smoke alarm sounding and smelled smoke earlier in the evening, but assumed it was coming from another street.
Later on Miss Mellor said she felt her own windows getting hot, such was the intensity of the fire. But it was only after leaving her house following a party that one of Miss Mellor’s friends noticed smoke coming from Mr Kinghorn’s home.
Miss Mellor said: “My friend said, ‘Joyce’s house is on fire’.
“We went round to see what was going on and someone kicked the door through, but the flames were too much so we couldn’t get inside.”
By the time firefighters arrived it is thought the blaze may have been alight for several hours and Ms Williams was found dead inside a short time later. Police and fire investigators were at the house for much of yesterday, but the fire is not being treated as suspicious.