Man tells of battle to save blaze couple

Fire investigation officer Andy Strelczenie makes a statement and speaks with the press, at the scene of the fire on Cherry Tree Street, Elsecar, Barnsley.  Pic: Ross Parry
Fire investigation officer Andy Strelczenie makes a statement and speaks with the press, at the scene of the fire on Cherry Tree Street, Elsecar, Barnsley. Pic: Ross Parry
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A NEIGHBOUR has told of his battle to save a man and a woman who died after a blaze ripped through a terrace house in Yorkshire as investigators today attempted to establish the cause.

Fire crews were called to Cherry Tree Street in Elsecar, Barnsley, at about 6.50pm yesterday and police tonight named the victims as Katherine Collard, 50, and Irwin Albers, 62.

Formal identification has yet to take place and a post-mortem examination is due tomorrow.

Neighbour David Leach, who went to the couple’s rescue before fire crews arrived, said: “I got a bang on the door because I’m a window cleaner and I’ve got ladders to reach the top windows. When we went round the window panes were melting because of the heat. We were spraying it all with a hosepipe.

“The back door was locked but we smashed the glass to get inside. We knew they were in there because they never go out. The heat was intense, we had to come out. It was terrible. We were shouting for them but couldn’t hear anything. When we got to the top of the stairs that was it. It was too hot and it was just thick with smoke.”

He said the woman, since named as Katherine Collard, wanted to become a qualified scuba diver.