A WOMAN was killed and a man had to be airlifted to hospital with severe burns following a fire at the couple’s flat yesterday morning.

Firefighters, police and ambulances were called to Thorley Court, in Hayward Close, Abbey Meads, at 1.39am where a third floor flat was well alight.

A 32-year-old woman, named locally as Sharron, was brought out of the flat by firefighters and was treated by paramedics at the scene, but she was pronounced dead at 2.16am.

A man, believed to be Robert Vaughan, was taken by air ambulance to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol suffering from serious burns, particularly to his arms, and the effects of smoke inhalation.

The 25-year-old, known to his friends and family as Sam, was still in hospital in a critical condition last night.

Police say it is too early to determine the cause of the blaze but are investigating all lines of inquiry.

Three fire engines attended along with an emergency support unit and crews in breathing apparatus forced their way into the premises.

They pulled the body of the woman from the burning building and attempted to resuscitate her, while the man was placed on a stretcher and loaded on to the helicopter, which had landed at Abbey Meads Primary School.

Last night friends had laid flowers outside the police cordon. Close pal Hayley Smith broke down in tears as she described the friend she had lost.

The 32-year-old, of Redhouse, said: “She was an angel and she has been taken too soon.

“We were very close friends after we met in the Navy in 1999. When I moved to Swindon she came too so we could live near each other.

“It was her birthday yesterday too. I can’t believe she’s gone – she was so young.”

Sharron’s next of kin have been informed but she is only expected to be formally identified following a post mortem examination this morning.

Tina Mottram, of nearby Wynwards Road, said she woke to the sounds of screaming.

The 46-year-old nurse said: “It was terrifying – we woke up about 1.35am because the dogs were barking and we could hear a man screaming. He was just yelling ‘help, help’.

“My husband and son went out with torches but could not see anything – it was pitch black. We heard the firefighters breaking into the flat and then just minutes later they pulled the young woman out.

“They were giving her CPR for about half an hour and did their best to bring her back. It’s horrible to think what happened and that she did not make it. It’s such a shock.”

Police officers helped to evacuate other residents from their homes, who are said to be staying with relatives and friends. Swindon Council has contacted the landlord to see if any residents need shelter.

Officers forced their way into four flats to check no-one was trapped inside and one officer needed treatment at the scene for mild smoke inhalation.

A spokesman for Great Western Ambulance Service said paramedics worked for 25 minutes to try and resuscitate Sharron after taking over from firefighters, but they were unable to save her.

An investigation into the fire by Wiltshire Fire and Rescue and Wiltshire Police is ongoing and a police spokesman said this could take several days. Yesterday morning, police established a wide cordon around the whole block of flats and put up a blue tarpaulin to shield the scene from the public, while crime scene investigators erected a forensics tent in the garden and investigated the apartment.

Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Matt Davey of the Brunel Major Crime Investigation Team, said it was still to early to determine the cause of the fire but that detectives were following all lines of inquiry.

He said: “It is too early at this stage in the investigation to confirm the cause of the fire, but Wiltshire Police are working with Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service to establish the circumstances.

“We would like to appeal to anyone who may have information, or who was in the area of Thorley Court between the hours of 10.30am on Sunday 18 November and 2.30am on Monday 19 November.”

Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.