AN ELDERLY man was found dead inside a house after a fire tore through it on Sunday afternoon.

The man, believed to be in his 90s, was discovered during a search of the property in Snakes Hill, Navestock Side, after firefighters from Brentwood, Ongar and Loughton tackled the blaze.

Reports of the fire at the semi-detached house were first made at about 12.30pm and the emergency services put out the flames by 3.45pm.

Essex Police and Essex Fire and Rescue are looking into the cause.

A police spokesman said: “A search of the property found the body of a man in his 90s, which was taken out of the property.

“His death is being treated as unexplained while joint police and fire enquiries take place.”

Police closed off the road while firefighters fought the flames.

A spokesman from Essex Fire said crews who went inside the building found a gas leak, but it is not clear yet whether this is linked with the fire.

The leak was brought under control before the property was ventilated.

Roy Tyzack, 65, from Navestock Side, went to the scene after seeing black smoke billowing into the sky.

Mr Tyzack said: “I was out cleaning my car when I suddenly saw the smoke rising.

“As I am an ambulance fast responder I went round to see if I could help, but when I got there the emergency services were already there.

“It is a little odd to see all that action happening. It was just a normal Sunday until it all sort of erupted into this intense activity.”