Man who died before fire recalled

A man who died due to a medical event before his house caught fire in Invercargill on Tuesday evening was described by neighbours as "a top man'' and a "lovely neighbour''.

John Powell, who lived opposite the dead man, known to him as "Woody'', said he saw flashing lights and thought it was coming from power poles.

It was not until he went outside that he realised the house was on fire, he said.

"One of the neighbours come up to me and just said, 'Oh no, he's gone.''

Mr Powell held back tears as he described his friend as "a person to himself'' but liked doing things such as tending to his vege garden.

"He'd have the potatoes at the back and the carrots on the side and he'd always tell me to help myself.''

Mr Powell said he was "pretty close'' with Woody and they talked "every second day''.

He said his friend had struggled with a number of health conditions over the years, including emphysema and asthma.

"He was about to make a trip up to Dunedin to get a few health things sorted.''

The way he had died was "devastating'', Mr Powell said.

He said Woody would often drive him down to the Southland Hotel on Friday nights.

"He was a good joker. He'd do anything for you. I used to mow his lawns to help him out and have a talk to him.''

A neighbour who lived in front of the property described the man's death as "a great tragedy''.

"He was a lovely neighbour and I just hope he went peacefully and wasn't uncomfortable or in pain.''


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