UPDATED: Man who died in Alvaston blaze caused by unguarded bedroom fire named as Donald Wilson
A 76-YEAR-OLD man died after a blaze caused by an unguarded open fire engulfed the bedroom of his home.
Neighbours desperately tried to wake Donald Wilson by banging on his front door after spotting smoke billowing from the back of the semi-detached house in Alvaston.
He was discovered lying on the upstairs landing by firefighters, who managed to rescue him from the blaze, which started at 2.40am yesterday. But he was pronounced dead on arrival at Royal Derby Hospital.
A fire investigation found that the blaze at the house in Holtlands Drive had been caused because the open fire, which did not have a guard, had been overloaded with fuel because of the cold weather.
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Firefighters believe the heat caused nearby objects to ignite.
Now Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued a warning about the dangers of unguarded open fires as the man's death is the second tragic incident in the county linked to open fires in the past two years.
In January 2011, Tommy Henson, nine, Alisha Henson-Nulty, six, Rocco Henson-Nulty, four, and Appolonia Henson, two, died in a ferocious blaze which spread through their Hulland Ward home. That blaze was caused an exploding log in a downstairs open fire, which also did not have a fireguard.
Dave Paul, a fire service station manager, said: "There's a tragic chain of events going on where, unfortunately, an open fire caused the deaths of four children in Hulland Ward.
"Now there's been another death from an open fire.
"The safety message here is you must have a fireguard in place and make sure it's not overloaded with fuel.
"Ensure chimneys are kept clean and smoke alarms are fitted and work properly."
Firefighters were called to the house after being alerted by the man's next-door neighbour, Glyn Jones, who said his wife had been woken by noises coming from the house.
The 51-year-old said: "We went to look out the back window and we saw smoke coming out of the house.
"I rang the fire brigade and went round to try to wake him up. I banged on the door until fire crews arrived.
"It's been a real shock for us. We didn't know him very well at all. He kept himself to himself."
Crews from Ascot Drive, Nottingham Road, Kingsway and Ilkeston fire stations arrived at the scene and gained access to the house by forcing entry through the front and back doors.
It took 20 firefighters to rescue the victim and tackle the blaze. The man's pet dog, thought to be a collie, was found dead in the bedroom.
Firefighters said the man had smoke alarms in place with batteries in them but it was unknown if they were in working order.
Residents in the street spoke of their shock at the tragedy.
Carol Hotter said she had recently started talking to the man when she saw him walking his dog.
The 50-year-old said: "I didn't see anything of the fire. It's such a shame as he seemed like a really nice man. I only recently starting stopping to stroke his dog and spoke with him. We had quite a few nice chats.
"I never heard him mention family but he would speak about things that happened to him when he was younger."
Another neighbour, Sharon Perrett said sirens had woken her up.
She said: "I could see a lot of commotion around the house but couldn't really see the severity of it.
"I had seen the man walking his dog up and down the road a few times. It's so sad, really shocking."
Jonathan Hatto, 34, said he heard sirens at about 2.50am.
He said: "The fire service had blocked off the road and I saw them going in next door's house.
"I didn't personally know the man who died but I know he walked his dog around here and would cycle into Allenton."
Another neighbour said the man was a keen bird watcher. He said: "He used to speak with me about his bird-watching. He really enjoyed it.
"It's really sad. He always kept himself to himself but was a lovely man."
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service is currently campaigning to ensure domestic sprinklers are fitted into all new homes.
A spokesman said: "Whilst a working smoke alarm gives essential early warning of a fire, a sprinkler system will actually fight the fire and will help to reduce its spread."