POLICE are investigating a fire which has left a pensioner homeless and claimed the life of his two pets.

Last week, firefighters from Erith were called to Blewbury House, Yarnton Way, Thamesmead, when a fire started in the 66-year-old man's flat.

Twenty minutes later the fire was out and as firemen went through the damaged flat they dragged out the pensioner's pet dog and cat, dead from smoke inhalation.

The fire started minutes after the man left his sixth-floor flat to go to the shops and is being regarded as suspicious.

Fire brigade investigators' suspicions were aroused when they found the front door was open at the time.

Now the police fire investigations unit is looking into the incident. A police source said the fire started in the corner of the front room but so far no cause has been established.

Although the 66-year-old had been attacked a week previously, police say the attack is not part of their investigations.

The pensioner is staying with friends while landlords Gallions Housing Association refurbish the flat.

Gallions spokeswoman, Amanda Granger said the association had the matter “in hand” but could not say when the flat would be habitable again.

Meanwhile, the pensioner has been referred to Bexley homeless persons' unit.