Neighbours of a woman in her 50s who died following a fire in her Catford terraced house are baffled by how she came to die.

Police are treating the Barmeston Road incident as suspicious after they were called last night (July 17) to reports of a sudden death and a fire.

By the time fire crews arrived the blaze was out and the woman, named locally as mum-of-two Angela Smith, had been pronounced dead at the scene.

Shocked neighbours said today they had not smelt any smoke or seen any flames. Many were only alerted when the fire brigade showed up shortly after 10pm - by which time the fire was already out.

Neighbours said the woman live don her own and "kept herself to herself".

Paying tribute to Ms Smith, May Richards, 60, explained that she had known her since she was 18 and sometimes used to babysit for her.

She said: "I don't know what happened. I just saw the fire engine. The ambulance was there for so long. When I went over there I didn't know it was someone I knew."

Ms Richards went on: "Her son and daughter were there. Her daughter held on to me and said 'mum's dead, mum's dead'. The smoke killed her. I'm just shocked, I can;t believe it. It's horrible.

She added: "She's always been a verty private person. You didn't see her a lot. She was soemone who always worked and was very much into her work.

"I just wish the children all the best and just hope they can cope.

"I hope that she's at peace now really. The ones that are left behind are going to really need some help and guidance at this time."

A Met Police spokesman said: "Police were called to Barmeston Road, Catford, at 9.57pm on July 17 following reports of a sudden death and a fire.

"Police are treating the fire as suspicious."

The woman’s death is being treated as unexplained and a post-mortem examination will be held in due course.

No arrests have been made and officers are working with the fire brigade to establish the cause.

A spokeswoman said: "We were called at 10.06pm by LAS.

"It was a terraced house of two floors. 25 per cent of the first floor was damaged by the fire.

"The fire was out when we arrived. She was found in a first floor bedroom."

Did you see what happened? Call the newsdesk on 01689 885732 or email

Did you see what happened? Call the newsdesk on 01689 885732 or email