Much-loved grandfather killed in tragic house fire
A much-loved father and grandfather has died after a fierce blaze tore through his weatherboard home in Victoria's Gippsland region.
Harold Smythe was inside his Ripplebrook property with a friend when flames took hold just after 4am.
Police say the sound of explosions and smoke woke the pair, with the 70-year-old's friend reaching out to the grandfather before escaping the house.
"He alerted him to the fact that the place was on fire, got a positive response," Sergeant John Roberts said.
"Realised that he didn't have his phone with him and ran to the neighbour's place and by the time he got back - he was unable to find his friend."
Fire crews battled for close to an hour to control the blaze and confirmed the father-of-five had perished.
Exactly what sparked the fire is yet to be determined – but police say they are investigating whether a candle or mosquito coil was a source of ignition.
The incident isn't being treated as suspicious.
Mr Smythe has nine grandchildren and has lived in the Gippsland area his entire life, with locals describing him as a well-liked and respected man within his small town.
Police say the impact of his death will be felt throughout the community.
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