The woman who died in a house fire in Chessington yesterday has been named locally as Dorothy Whiteway.

Mrs Whiteway, 90, is understood to have been a founding member of Chessington Methodist Church, which stands just yards from her home in Moor Lane.

Her husband Roy was pulled to safety by next door neighbour Alan Rendall, after the blaze broke out at about 5.30pm on July 27.

Mr Whiteway is recovering in hospital today.

Mr Rendall said today: "I’d been working in my garden, and I’d just sat down to watch the Grand Prix.  

"They have a conservatory at the back of their garden and at the time I didn’t notice anything untoward. 

"Just as I sat down in my dining room I saw some smoke go past.

 "When I stood up I could see a fire. The flames were coming from inside the window. 

"I ran into the garden and ripped out one of the fence panels. The whole of the back of the conservatory was on fire.

"I found Roy lying on the floor of the conservatory. There was glass crashing and things going bang.

"I got down on my hands and knees and dragged him out by the ankles. He was conscious but dazed. 

"I managed to get him out and into the back garden.

"I've still got a bad throat from it, but I declined to go to hospital. The whole thing feels like a dream.

"I feel quite emotional just talking about it." 

Mrs Whiteway's son Steve, 56, said his mother was "very much a family person".

He added: "She always loved having family occasions - she always enjoyed her family.

"She got to see her granddaughter married, and her great-grandson christened.

"My parents reached their 60th anniversary in 2011."

Mr Whiteway, managing director of Epsom Coaches, said his success and that of his two brothers was due in part to his mother's support.

He added: "She was always very driven. I quite often got extra homework. We've all risen to the top of our respective companies.

"We didn't always like it at the time but in retrospect we all did very well. We have a lot to thank her for."

Mr Whiteway also praised emergency workers, as well as Mr Rendall.

He said: "Alan risked his life to bring him away.

"We owe him a big debt of gratitude. They've all been very good - the hospital, everyone.

"There is a lot of thank yous. Alan was great and the neighbours were all brilliant."

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Police officers guarding the house this morning.

A member of Chessington Methodist Church today said: "She was a lovely woman serving the church and the community.

"She was coming to terms with the fact that she could do less and less.

"Anybody that needed her, she was always there.

"She used to do all the flowers. If there was a wedding she would do the wedding bouquet.

"She was an expert." 

Adam Love, crew commander from Epsom fire station, was the first firefighter on the scene.

Mr Love was returning to Epsom fire station at the end of a shift in Esher when he saw the smoke.

He said: "When I got there it was a fully developed fire. There was no way anyone could get into the building. 

"I called the control room directly and told them to increase the number of fire engines. 

"I also tried to stop the public from smashing windows and going in.

"The reality is if people had done that they could have caused a potential backdraft, or injured not only themselves but other bystanders."

Mark Stewart, Blue Watch commander at Epsom fire station, praised Mr Love, saying: "He controlled the scene until the fire engines arrived." 

Seven fire engines and 35 firefighters battled to put out the fire, which left the home completely destroyed.

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Nearby Chessington Methodist Church, where Mrs Whiteway was a member.

The fire was finally put out at 7.17pm with a neighbouring property also damaged.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Police officers stood guard outside the house this morning.

A section of the roof has been burned away, and plastic sheeting covers a downstairs front window.

  • Did you know Dorothy Whiteway? Leave your tributes below or call the newsdesk on 020 8722 6317.