A CLOSE-knit community has been left shocked after an elderly man died following a house fire.

The blaze happened on the ground floor of a semi-detached house on Rydal Close, in Wigton, on Thursday afternoon.

There were reports that the occupant had died, and Cumbria police yesterday confirmed that a 92-year-old man had passed away.

A spokesman for the force said his death is not being treated as suspicious. His identity has not been released.

Neighbours stood shocked as the scene unfolded and were devastated to hear the news.

Residents stood on the street watching the drama unfold, as one revealed how the house had been filled with smoke when the alarm was raised.

Standing with red rimmed eyes, an emotional neighbour - who did not want to be named - said: “I just can’t believe it, I have known him for years.

“There was smoke coming out of the chimney and I knew he didn’t have a coal fire.”

Officers from Cumbria Constabulary are now working with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service to investigate the circumstances leading to the fire, although it is not believed to be suspicious.

Emergency services including several police vehicles and fire engines from Wigton, Silloth and Carlisle East attended the fire at 4.02pm.

The North West Ambulance Service also had two vehicles at the property - a rapid response car and a land ambulance, but there was no intervention.

Police officers went house to house to try and help with the investigation and were talking to a number of residents of the street.

The coroner has been informed and an inquest into his death will be opened in due course. Police are currently supporting the man’s family.

Crews were at the property for about three hours while they made the area safe.

The home stood with its windows wide open while firefighters and police continued to make the area safe and break the news to the man’s family.