Fire investigators working at the burnt-out home in Caley Street earlier this week. Pictures: Supplied.

Tributes have been paid to a fire safety campaigner who died in a devastating blaze at her Heacham home. 

Tracey Swann pictured at a protest earlier this year. Picture: Supplied.
Tracey Swann pictured at a protest earlier this year. Picture: Supplied.

“Community stalwart” Tracey Swann was heavily involved in village life, playing a key role in saving its fire station from closure last year.

Tributes have flooded in for the mother-of-one and a fund established for her family has already raised hundreds of pounds.

Ms Swann, in her mid 40s, died when fire broke out at her terrace home in Caley Street on Saturday night.

Neighbours raised the alarm just after 8pm and friends on the Heacham fire crew were the first to attend.

Despite arriving just moments after the call, the fire had already taken hold and she could not be saved.

Firefighter Chris Wood said the crew were personal friends of Ms Swann, who had worked “tirelessly for the station and the community as a whole”.

“Unfortunately, we recognised the address when the call came in and before we even left the station, we knew who it was.

“Tracey was like another member of the crew and a part of the fire station family.

“We’re all stunned and keep asking ourselves why? As always, we just have to carry on and do our job the best we can.”

Ms Swann got involved in the fight to save the station as soon as news broke that it was under threat of closure in August last year, starting the Friends of Heacham Fire Station Facebook page.

An active parish councillor, she was also involved in the Heacham carnival, Heacham youth club and St Mary’s Church.

Mr Wood added: “Tracey made it her mission to make sure the station stayed open. She worked tirelessly for the cause, as she did for other groups in the village.

“She was very driven and doing nothing was not an option. If it was a good cause she did everything she could to help and always put others before herself.

“Everybody feels the same, we just can’t believe it.”

A fire investigation began on Sunday but it is not yet known how and where the blaze started.

On Wednesday a spokesman for the fire service said there was no reason to believe there were any suspicious circumstances regarding the incident.

“The fire investigation will continue with assistance from police forensic teams. The cause is not immediately obvious at this stage,” a statement said.

Ms Swann was alone in the property at the time apart from two dogs rescued by firefighters.

Caley Street was cordoned-off while investigators worked and a white forensics tent was placed outside.

Station manager Jonathan Wilby, part of the fire investigation team, said the Heacham crew was keen to be involved in work at the house because it had been “deeply saddened” by Ms Swann’s death.

He said firefighters were confronted by a well-established fire, with temperatures of between 800 and 1,000C and the house had been completely devastated.

“We were called by neighbours who heard and smelled the fire,” he said.

“The crews did a fantastic job of stopping the fire from spreading.”

Villagers gathered at St Mary’s Church to remember Ms Swann on Sunday evening.

The normal service was turned into an open evening for people to gather and a book of condolence was opened at the church.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham has also paid tribute to Ms Swann.

He said he got to know her through her work with Heacham Parish Council and the fire station campaign.

“I would like to pay tribute to a true community stalwart who, through her selfless campaigning and work for the village, won the respect and friendship of so many people.

“Heacham really has lost a remarkable parishioner and my heartfelt sympathies go out to her family at this very difficult time.

“I would like to pay tribute to the retained fire crew from Heacham who were first on the scene on Saturday night.”

Heacham fire station was threatened with closure as part of a cost-cutting drive by Norfolk County Council.

The station was reprieved, along with Outwell and West Walton, in February following the formation of the protest group and a campaign on social media.

Ms Swann was among the campaigners to attend council meetings at County Hall in Norwich and has organised several events at the station, including a Christmas tree festival and an open day at the end of last month.

Her Save Heacham Fire Station Facebok page later became the Friends of Heacham Fire Station, with more than 1,200 likes.

Dozens of tributes were posted on the site this week.

In a statement, Heacham Parish Council said: “We are shocked and saddened at the tragic loss of one of our most valued parish councillors.”

Parish council chairman Michael Williamson said yesterday everyone was still in a state of shock.

He said the tragic incident highlighted the necessity for keeping local fire stations open.

“Tracey did a lot for the parish council. She was chairman of the committee which organised the annual carnival, that same committee also looks after the children’s recreation ground.

“She was someone who got things done rather than sat around. She will be greatly missed. She was always willing to help.”

As well as the church book, a book of condolence has been opened on behalf of the parish council for residents to sign.

This will be in the library today from 10am to 8pm, tomorrow from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 10am to noon after which it will be in the parish office in Pound Lane.

Donations are also being collected for the family and Ms Swann’s son Tanner, who is it understood was staying with family.

The fund has been organised by the youth and community trust in the village and donations can be made at local businesses with Suttons Estate Agents in High Street as a main collection point.

A spokesman said there had been a very good response so far.