Neighbours have paid tribute to an elderly woman who died in a house fire yesterday.

A woman in her 70s, named locally as Betty Jager, died in the blaze in Monksgrove, Loughton, which started shortly after 11.45pm on Monday.

Her husband, also in his 70s , Fred Jager, escaped the blaze and is currently in Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone being treated for serious burns.

He is believed to be in a stable condition.

Patricia Pope has lived next door to the couple since she moved in to the property 41 years ago.

She said: “It’s a rotten shock.

“Betty was a lovely soul and happy and just a nice woman.

“You won’t find anyone with a bad word to say about her”

Another neighbour, Rosemary Barry, said: “It was a terrible shock and very very tragic.

“I liked her very much; she always had a smile and asked how I was.

“She was always very friendly and she was a good neighbour.

Vicky Gilman, who lives in a block of flats opposite the property, said: “It was like a scene from a horror movie.

“There was thick black smoke pouring out of the windows and it absolutely stank.

“We were really concerned for the couple living there.”

A total of three fire crews attended the incident and reported the house was 30 per cent alight and completely smoke logged when they arrived.