Family and friends pay tribute to pensioner who dies in Clapton house fire

A photo of Myrna Kaye at her cousin Brenda Heller's wedding on September 6, 1981.

A photo of Myrna Kaye at her cousin Brenda Heller's wedding on September 6, 1981. - Credit: Archant

Family and neighbours paid tribute to a woman they described as a “gentle soul” after she died in a fire which tore through her flat.

Paramedics were unable to revive Myrna Kaye, 76, after firefighters pulled her out of the blazing flat in Knightland House, Kightland Road, at around 8pm on Friday evening.

More than 20 firefighters spent an hour-and-a-half battling the flames.

The victim’s cousin, Brenda Heller, 67, of Leyton, said: “It was such a shock to receive the news. Myrna was a very kind person. She befriended my late cousin’s mother-in-law – an elderly woman – and used to visit her quite a lot. She was also a companion to another elderly woman. She was very kind.”

“She was also a very independent person. She didn’t like people helping her.”

The cause of the fire is not established, but Mrs Heller believes it could have been started by a candle which Ms Kaye, who was Jewish, would light every Friday evening to mark the start of the Sabbath.

She said: “Every Friday she would light candles. She also used to have a lot of falls. The only thing I can think of is that she perhaps knocked a candle over during the fall. But nobody knows what happened.”

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One neighbour recalled hearing noises that sounded like “rapid machine gun fire” as objects exploded in Ms Kaye’s flat.

A neighbour of Ms Kaye for 49 years said: “She was a lovely person and a gentle soul. It’s a terrible way to go.”

Ms Kaye lived alone and had no children or partner.

Yitty Berkowitz, of Knightland Road, said: “She was friendly to all the children on the street. She would stop to talk to them. She was our children’s’ friend. We can’t believe she’s not going to stop and greet the children anymore. It’s hard to digest.”

Chava Klein, of Knightland Road, said: “We will really miss her. She was part of the street family. We are traumatised to know that she died in a fire.”

The cause of the blaze is under investigation and a post mortem will be carried out in due course.

A friend, who did not wish to be named, recalled an intelligent and well-turned out woman. She said: “We would have really nice conversations ranging from the mundane to the spiritual. She loved books and was well-read. She was always made-up and always looked beautiful.”