Neighbours pay tribute to wheelchair-bound man who died in Hackney Wick fire

Homerton fire crews rushed to the scene but the fire was aleady out.

Homerton fire crews rushed to the scene but the fire was aleady out. - Credit: sub

A disabled man who died in a fire on Tuesday has been identified as Michael Aloba, police have said.

The 78-year-old former cab driver was found dead at his flat in Southmoor Way, Hackney Wick on Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters from Homerton fire station were called to the address at 12.51pm by police, but the blaze was out before they arrived. Part of the living-room was damaged in the incident.

A police spokesman confirmed the identity of the victim as Michael Aloba and said the death was being treated as “non-suspicious”.

Today, neighbours paid tribute to Mr Aloba, who they had not seen in the two weeks leading up to his death.

Gbemisola Abolaji, 48, whose mother lives in Southmoor Way, said: “Although I do not live here, I’ve known him for four years as my mum was friends with him. I’m really sad to hear what happened. He was an easygoing, humble man. He would ask my mum to buy him things he needed. She started crying when she heard the news.”

Everton Lewis, of nearby Chisledon Walk said his family often helped Mr Aloba.

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“I’ve known Michael for about 11 years,” he said. “He was very friendly. Before he went into a wheelchair, he was always out and we would never see him. When he became wheelchair-bound four years ago, it contributed to his well-being. Before, he probably had a lot of friends but when he couldn’t drive he became housebound. That’s when he became quite lonely.

“When he struggled with his wheelchair or needed some chores done, my boys would help him. A couple of weeks ago, he was struggling to get his wheelchair up the ramp to his home so my wife and I helped him.”

Pamela Sifford, 81, also of Chisledon Walk, added: “It’s very sad. We know what it’s like to be on your own and we don’t like to hear he died on his own.”

Another neighbour, Peter Codrington, said: “It’s shocking. He was a friendly guy. I had not seen him for over a week. I know he goes to the hospital regularly to be treated and I thought he was there.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.