Tributes to Dave Ratford after his death in house fire in Esdaile Lane, Burley
A “CHARMING fellow” was one of the tributes to a Burley man who died in a fire at his home.
The villager, named locally as Dave Ratford who was in his 60s, was found dead inside the property in Esdaile Lane after flames tore through it in the early hours of Saturday 16th July.
As reported in the A&T, firefighters from across the New Forest responded to a call-out shortly before 3.30am.
The house was severely damaged, and the first floor of an adjoining property also sustained fire and water damage.
Residents shared their shock at the death of Mr Ratford who was a popular member of the community.
The retired self-employed draughtsman and drawer was married to Annie. He ran his own business, D. J. Ratford, and was secretary of the Burley Cinema Club at the village hall for many years.
Neighbour Mary Adcock (96) described him as “a very nice man” who would do odd jobs for her.
“He saw that my gate needed mending and offered to sort it,” she told the A&T. “I asked how much and he said he’d do it for nothing.
“He’d often come and check on me, sometimes come in for a coffee. He was ever so kind.”
Local resident Simon Rowley fondly recalled Mr Ratford letting him use his fax machine about 30 years ago.
“I found him to be a really friendly, likeable guy,” he said.
“He always would help people out – he was just that sort of person. He was a very good person to have in your village.
“Burley is a close-knit community, so this is a pretty dreadful thing to happen in a small village.”
Parish council chair Cllr Philip Daubeney citied Mr and Mrs Ratford’s involvement with the cinema club as a significant contribution to the community.
“All our sympathies are with Annie,” he said.
“It’s a shock. It’s the sort of thing you read about happening somewhere else, but you never expect it to happen in your village.”
Hampshire police and the fire service are continuing investigations into the fire.
However, a force spokesperson said the incident was not currently being treated as suspicious.
Winchester Coroners’ office confirmed Mr Ratford’s death had been referred, but the inquest opening would await the investigation.