Residents near Ushaw Moor Cemetery in County Durham reported seeing a ‘small fire’ early this morning and alerted emergency services. They rushed to the cemetery and erected a forensic tent, as they probe the emergency.
But a man was pronounced dead at the scene, firefighters confirmed. It is believed that he had been reported missing.
A Durham Police spokesperson said: ‘Unfortunately a male was found deceased at the scene,’ a police spokesperson said.
“Inquiries are ongoing to confirm his identity, but officers believe he is a missing male and his family is being notified.
“There are no suspicious circumstances believed to exist and a case will be prepared for the coroner.
“No grave was touched.
“The cemetery will be closed for the rest of the day but is expected to reopen tomorrow and we would like to thank the public for their patience.”
A shocked local said Live Chronicle: “I woke up around 6:10 a.m. I looked through the curtains and I saw a fire, it was a small fire. I thought it was children, as we sometimes have.
“I went downstairs and thought it didn’t look good. So, I phoned the fire department. The fire department arrived and put out the fire.
“They put duct tape around the area and then the police arrived around 6.30am. Then a forensic van arrived.
“Not what I expected in the morning.
“The police called me and asked me what I had seen.”
A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) said: ‘We were alerted at 6.08am this morning (Thursday April 28) to reports of a fire in a graveyard in Broom Lane, Ushaw Moor CDDFRS Control mobilized two teams to the scene.
“Despite all efforts by the emergency services, a man was sadly pronounced dead at the scene. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the wider community at this difficult time.”
The cemetery has been cordoned off by Durham Police, who have been approached for further comment.
Several ambulances and fire engines were also spotted at the scene, which is in a former pit village just west of Durham.
A North East Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called to an incident at Ushaw Moor Cemetery at 6.19am this morning. We dispatched an ambulance crew but are unable to provide further comments.”