A 58-year-old British woman has died after her house caught fire with her inside in northern Spain as neighbours now pay tribute to the “very kind and good woman”.
The woman, named in reports as Michelle I. M., died in her house located in La Civera, one of the neighbourhoods of the town of Olba, in the northern Spanish province of Teruel.
The fire started for unknown reasons, at around 3.30 am and was extinguished around two hours later thanks to the intervention of firefighters.
The whole two-storey where Michelle was living alone was destroyed, not only the inside but also the roof, leaving only the four walls of the house standing.
A neighbour in the area had spotted the fire from his house and called the emergency services, according to local media Heraldo.
Carlos Villacreces, a resident of the town, explained to local media that the walls of the house “made a kind of chimney through which the flames were going out”.
Villacreces regretted the death of his neighbour and described her as a “very kind and good woman”. He considered the possibility that Michelle had fallen asleep without noticing the fire.
Federico Martin, the Mayor of Olba, who went to the area along with Civil Protection staff, explained that once the fire was over, the smoke and the huge amount of debris did not allow people to go inside to see if there was anybody in the house.
According to Martin, the judicial police of the Spanish Civil Guard managed to go into the house at 8 am and they found Michelle’s body inside.
Local media report the body was found only two metres from the front door of the house. The autopsy, set to be carried out in the hospital of San Jose in Teruel, will determine the cause of death. The woman had lived in Olba for more than 10 years.
It is said that the city council has contacted the family of the victim, who live in the UK. Around a dozen people live in La Civera and some of the houses in the neighbourhood had been bought by Michelle and were sold or rented by her to other families who like to live close to nature. Olba has a total of 230 residents.
The mayor said “it was a tragic accident and we are very sorry here in Olba where we all know each other” and he added that “nobody knew what happened, if she fell asleep or what happened”.
The Spanish Civil Guard are investigating the causes of the fire.