Body of man feared dead in blaze that gutted his home discovered

Updated: 

The body of a 73-year-old man feared dead in a blaze that gutted his home has been discovered, police said.

Dozens of elderly residents in adjoining sheltered accommodation were forced to flee after a fire ripped through a flat in Lonsdale Court, Penrith on Saturday morning.

A search took place on Sunday afternoon after the building was made secure, and while formal identification has not taken place, Cumbria Constabulary "strongly believe" the body is that of the occupant of the flat where the fire started. 

Inspector Andy Hanson from Cumbria Police said: "This has been a distressing incident for all involved, and sadly we are now able to confirm that one person died in the fire.

"We are now working hard to secure the building to allow the other residents to return to their flats - this is expected to take a considerable amount of time."

Officers were called to the blaze at 9.47am on Saturday, Cumbria Constabulary said.

The adjoining sheltered accommodation for older people was evacuated and 27 out of the 31 residents were forced to take refuge in Penrith Leisure Centre.

They were unharmed by the fire and have now been found suitable accommodation elsewhere, police said.

Mr Hanson thanked the local area for showing support, calling it "a testament to the community spirit and kindness of people living in Penrith".

The local Sainsbury's and Morrisons branches and Esso garage provided supplies for those evacuated, while neighbours brought out duvets and hot drinks immediately after the incident.

Forensic investigators continue to investigate the cause of the fire.