AN elderly man has died following a fire at a flat in Combe Martin during the early hours of this morning (Monday.)

Three fire crews were called to Rone House in King Street just after 2.15am and were told by the other residents of the converted former hotel that the man was unaccounted for.

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

Incident 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 had been 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.”

The other residents were evacuated to a local hotel where they spent the rest of the night before being allowed to rerun to their homes in the morning.

The cause of the blaze is being investigated by fire and police officers.