An elderly couple died in a house fire which was likely to have been caused by a discarded cigarette, an inquest heard this week.

Emergency services were called out to reports of a fire on the first floor of a two-storey, end-of-terrace house in Skimmers Close, Holmer Green, after neighbours saw flames coming out of Brian and Eileen Hazell’s home in April this year.

The couple were rescued but sadly pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Assistant coroner for Buckinghamshire Alison McCormick heard that Mrs Hazell, 72, was a heavy smoker and often discarded cigarettes she had smoked to the end.

Mrs Hazell also had dementia, which the court heard could have contributed to her smoking.

Neighbour Luke Webb said he was woken by his girlfriend who told him the couple’s house was on fire.

He said: “I could see the fire coming out through the back window.”

Mr Webb said he got his tools and tried to get in through the front door – when that did not work, he broke the glass on the door to gain entry.

He added: “While trying to open the front door, I was calling out to Brian and Eileen.”

Firefighter Dave Herring, who was one of the first on the scene, said Bucks Fire received multiple calls about the blaze from concerned neighbours.

He said: “When I got there I instantly noticed flames burning from the top window looking over the front.

“I tried to gain entry through the front door, however it was initially not opening so I had to force entry.”

He said he saw that the ceiling in the living room had collapsed and headed upstairs where it got “hotter and hotter”.

The source of the fire was found to be one of the bedrooms Mrs Hazell slept in, with firefighters saying they believed the source was a partially extinguished cigarette in a waste paper basket at the foot of her bed.

Another firefighter, Trevor Williamson, described how he got the couple, who were both unconscious, out of the house.

He said: “I took the male casualty down the stairs and handed him to paramedics at the front door.

“The floor had caved in in the front bedroom. We made a hole through the wall of the adjacent room to fight the fire.”

Fire sergeant Marshall said paramedics tried to revive the couple for around 30 minutes but sadly were not able to.

Mr Hazell, 81, was pronounced dead at 4.41am and Mrs Hazell at 4.45am.

Heartbroken neighbours paid tribute to the elderly couple at the time, with Amelia Brooks saying they “couldn’t have wished for better neighbours”.

Assistant coroner for Buckinghamshire Alison McCormick said the couple’s cause of death was “inevitably an accident” and ruled the “incompletely extinguished” cigarette as the contributing factor "on a balance of probabilities".

The medical cause of death for both was ruled as smoke inhalation due to a house fire.