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Tributes pour in for house blaze victims

PUBLISHED: 11:49 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:22 23 August 2010

REMEMBERED: Flowers are laid outside the fire house.

REMEMBERED: Flowers are laid outside the fire house.

A COMMUNITY has been rocked by the death of a second resident who was trapped in a devastating house fire. Sharon Purnell, 52, from Longfield, was carried from the house by firefighters on December 29 but died from her injuries in hospital on Saturday.

Fred Purnell

A COMMUNITY has been rocked by the death of a second resident who was trapped in a devastating house fire.

Sharon Purnell, 52, from Longfield, was carried from the house by firefighters on December 29 but died from her injuries in hospital

on Saturday.

Her husband, Fred Purnell, 67, was pulled from the smoke-filled property in Main Road by neighbour Bob Chalmers. Despite efforts from firefighters to resuscitate Mr Purnell, he died on the front lawn.

Mrs Purnell's mother-in-law was also rescued but is still fighting for her life in hospital.

This week residents paid tribute to the couple, who have a 12-year-old daughter Nikita who is being looked after by a guardian. She was on holiday in Canada when the tragedy happened but has since returned.

Michael Jones, 39, of Longfield Village Butchers, spoke to Mrs Purnell on the day she died. He said: "My father-in-law dropped some meat off for them on Christmas Eve.

"On the day the fire happened, Sharon came into the shop to say thanks and have a chat.

"What has happened to them is a terrible thing, very sad and a lot of people are upset about it."

One bunch of flowers at the scene reads 'You were a great neighbour, always there if anyone needed any help, Scott and Richard.'

Another was laid by Amanda Copus, 42, a friend who worked at the Co-op in Station Road. Nikita and her daughter India went to Molly's Pre-school and then Langfael juniors until going onto secondary school this year.

Mrs Copus said: "I can't believe what has happened, it's really sad they are gone.

I first met Sharon when I was at the doctors, I looked at this little girl and thought straight away 'that's got to be Fred's daughter' because of the likeness.

"Fred used to come in for years to do the shopping, before he got ill. Then Sharon would come down on his mobility scooter to get the groceries. Sometimes you would see them both on it, they were a couple of characters.

"They were friendly and kind, always stopped

to say hello."

Mrs Purnell used to work at the Railway Tavern on Main Road where she cooked food.

Bill Hayward, 79, of Caxton Close, Hartley knew the family for 15 years and said: "Fred liked a nice pint of Guinness until he got ill with cancer and then went on to orange juice.

"When he drove he would sometimes give me a ride home if I had one too many glasses of port, he was a nice fella.

"He was into motorbikes a lot, one of his friends was killed only a couple of years ago."

Mrs Purnell regularly went in to the Town and Country Pet Store to buy food for the couple's two dogs, one a West Highland Terrier which perished in the fire.

A white dog bowl and model of a terrier laid on the front lawn the morning after the fire, as investigators sifted through the charred embers of the downstairs lounge.

It is understood by Kent Fire and Rescue Service that the couple's property was not fitted with a smoke alarm.

The fire is not being treated as suspicious.

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