Yesterday’s blaze which claimed life of man in his 60s not thought to be suspicious

A retired Combe Martin postman has died following a fire in the village during the early hours of yesterday (Monday) morning.

Rodney Martin, aged 68, has been named locally as the victim of the ground floor flat blaze at the converted four storey Rone House, a former hotel in King Street.

Three fire crews were called to the scene just after 2.15am and were told by other residents that Mr Martin was unaccounted for and they had been unable to rouse him.

Six fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus entered his ground floor flat and discovered him as they tackled the blaze. Police later confirmed an elderly man had died but he has yet to be formally identified.

Incident Commander Mark Sanders, station manager at Barnstaple, said when the Combe Martin and two Ilfracombe fire crews arrived the fire had been well developed, with smoke issuing from the building.

The four storey building was converted into apartments a few years ago and Stn Mgr Sanders said its modern fire measures had helped to contain the blaze while the alarm alerted the other residents.

“It was extremely hot for the crews and there was thick smoke so visibility was very low, but they were able to bring the fire under control quickly,” he said.

“The fire alarm was a key part in ensuring the incident did not get any worse.”

Residents were evacuated to a local hotel where they spent the rest of the night before being allowed to return to their homes in the morning.

The cause of the blaze is being investigated by fire and police officers but is not thought to be suspicious.