A Fleetwood pensioner is fighting for his life after a devastating blaze at his home.
The man, in his 70s and named locally as Bill, was rescued by fire crews after the fire broke out at the end-terrace property on North Albert Street at 2.30am yesterday.
He suffered severe burns as well as the effects of smoke inhalation and was last night critically ill in hospital.
Firefighters had to force entry into the property to rescue the man, who they said was only semi-conscious.
He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital.
Neighbours were evacuated to Fleetwood Police Station until their homes were deemed safe after 5am.
Next door neighbour Kate Bird, who is pregnant, was woken at around 2.30am by the fire alarm sounding from the man’s house.
She said: “At first I didn’t think anything about why the alarm was going off, but them I smelt smoke.
“I looked out of the window and noticed it was coming from the house next door.
“I phoned the fire brigade and after they arrived I saw him being carried out on a stretcher.” She added: “I only know him by his first name, Bill, but I say hello and we exchange Christmas cards.
“We just hope he’s all right.”
Pensioner Marion Hartley, 85, who lives next door-but-one, added: “The police and firemen came and told us we would have to leave our houses, just to be sure there was no danger.
“It was a bit frightening, because you don’t want your house to blow up.
“We were there at the station until after five o’clock in the morning.
“I don’t know Bill very well but he always speaks when he sees me.
“It is a bit of a shock.”
Coun Lorraine Beavers, of Pharos ward, said: “It’s a good job the neighbours were alert.
“Fleetwood is a large town with a village mentality and it’s good we still have community spirit here.
“Let’s home this poor man will be alright.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “A man in his 70s was rescued from inside and has serious burns.
“We are now satisfied this was an accident and there are no suspicious circumstances.”
Three engines, from Fleetwood and Bispham fire stations, battled the blaze until around 6am, which ripped through the ground floor of the home, although there was very little sign of damage from the outside.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing.