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Pensioner dies in Eltham house fire whilst son remains in a critical condition

PUBLISHED: 17:30 26 January 2011 | UPDATED: 17:35 26 January 2011

The fire damaged house on Grangehill Road, Eltham

The fire damaged house on Grangehill Road, Eltham

Archant

Tributes have been paid to a “true gentleman” who died in a house fire that started in the early hours of the morning.

Charred posessions outside the house on Grangehill Road, Eltham

Tributes have been paid to a “true gentleman” who died in a house fire that started in the early hours of the morning.

George Johnson, believed to be in his 70s, died when the blaze ripped through the home he shared with his wife Janet and son Max in Grangehill Road, Eltham, on Sunday.

His son, 39, who is believed to have re-entered the house to try and rescue his father as the fire took hold, is currently in a critical but stable condition in hospital. Mrs Johnson was treated for smoke inhalation.

Shocked neighbours described Mr Johnson — who had lived in the house for more than 40 years — as a “lovely, cheery man”.

Tribute messages on the flowers outside the charred house in Grangehill Road, Eltham

John Smith, 73, who lives opposite, said: “He was one of nature’s true gentlemen. He always had a smile and a cheery hello.”

Fighting back tears Mr Smith added: “I’ll miss seeing him around. He was well known, you would talk to people who you wouldn’t dream would know him — but they would.”

Neighbour and close friend, Donald Hollingsworth, 73, said: “They were pretty outgoing. When I heard people outside I thought they were coming back from a night club.

“I felt I could have done more. They said it was like a furnace.

Tributes left  outside the charred house in Grangehill Road, Eltham

“They were quite a close family. It’s a huge shock.”

Flowers laid at the door of the house contained tributes which read: “Dear George, rest in peace. Janet can’t stop thinking of you.”

A mound of burnt books and blackened possessions remain in the front garden and Mrs Johnson arrived back to her home on Tuesday morning with family members, but was too distressed to talk to the Times.

Judy Queminet, 60, who has lived in the street for more than 30 years, said: “When the police told us what had happened to George we were very sad and tearful.

“They are just a lovely family. George was lovely, he would walk up and down the road and chat to the neighbours.”

Up to 20 fire fighters tackled the fire at the house which was left badly damaged. The London Fire Brigade and the police are investigating the cause of the fire but it is not thought to be suspicious.


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