Grandmother who died in Bromley fire was diplomat’s wife

PUBLISHED: 14:46 10 February 2011

Anne and Norman Smith in Haifa, Israel in 1959 with son Jon

Anne and Norman Smith in Haifa, Israel in 1959 with son Jon


A grandmother who died when fire swept through her home was the wife of a former diplomat who travelled the world.

The first floor window at the back of the Murray Avenue house shows where smoke billowed from the bedroom.

Anne Smith, 94, was killed after the blaze on the first floor of her house in Murray Avenue, Bromley, at 10.30am on Saturday.

Firefighters were called when neighbours saw smoke billowing from a window at the back of the semi-detached house. Despite a fast rescue they were unable to save Mrs Smith, who died shortly afterwards.

Her only son, Jon Smith, 59, of Mead Way, said his mother was a well travelled lover of the arts who would regale her friends with stories.

Mr Smith, a retired police officer, said: “Mum was a person who liked to help people. She would always have a tale to tell, whether it was from the Andes or Israel.

The semi-detached house in Murray Avenue where Mrs Smith died in the blaze

“She was an avid bridge player, a great reader and interested in opera. She just loved the community spirit around here.”

Mrs Smith moved to Murray Avenue with her husband, Norman, in 1959.

Neighbours expressed their shock at the blaze which took Mrs Smith’s life.

Muriel Rose, 78, was a close friend who has lived opposite for around 40 years. She said “I thought it was a small fire, I had no idea how bad it was. It has been complete shock for everybody in the road. I can’t believe it. I just hope she didn’t suffer.”

Gill Sheppard, 54, who lives next door, said: “There were lots of fire engines, paramedics and the helicopter.

“We knew that Anne was still in there but it all happened so fast there was no time. When the firefighters arrived they got her out really quickly and she was still alive. She died outside in the ambulance. It’s just horrible.”

Anne and her husband Norman moved to Bromley in 1969 after the couple had lived in Washington, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Israel and Madagascar amongst others. Jon was born while his father in Sweden where his father was consul. Norman Smith died in 1975.

She is survived by her sister Doreen Horwell, who also lives in Bromley, her son Jon and his two children aged 18 and 24. Firefighters are investigating the cause of the fire, which was not suspicious.

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