A fire service yesterday admitted a man could have been saved from a blazing house if firefighters had not been on strike just 400 yards away.
The fire broke out at an end terraced house around 2pm on Saturday and witnesses reported a man desperately shouting from a second-floor window.
A woman and her three children managed to escape with minor injuries but tragically the man did not get out.
Firefighters rushed to the scene in Welwyn Garden City, Herts and rescued the victim, who was in his 40s and critically injured.
He was taken to Whitechapel Hospital in London with severe burns but died a short while later.
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service admitted the man might have survived if their firefighters had not been on strike.
They confirmed crews from a station just 400 yards away had not attended the blaze and instead it took another crew ten minutes to reach the house.
A spokesman said: “Had the strike not been on the response would most likely have been faster.
“However, it is unclear at this time whether the outcome would have been any different.”
The fire came as the Fire Brigades Union staged a seven-hour strike on Saturday over a row about pensions.
Del Macleod, chairman of the Hertfordshire FBU branch, said striking firefighters were not at the nearby station at the time of the fire.
He said: “Hertfordshire Fire Service does not permit staff to stay on their premises when striking.”
Mr Macleod said it was a “difficult time” for everyone involved and said all the thoughts of the crews were with the family of the man who died.
He added that on a normal day there was a good chance a crew from the nearby station would have been available but it was “not guaranteed”.
Neighbour Valerie Carruthers, 62, said: “I heard the father died. It is horrendous what has happened.
“I saw the smoke bellowing across the road and the fire had taken hold pretty quickly.
“The house is just totally gutted now and I feel for the family.”
Seema Parmar, 47, added: “My husband was at home and he saw all the smoke coming out of the house and said it was really black.
“It is just across the road from us and when he went down he said he saw the man at the top floor window.
“He was trying to jump out the window but then he just went away. The woman and children managed to escape”
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said they were “saddened” by the death of the man.
He said: “This is tragic news. Firefighters have dedicated their professional lives to protecting the public and are always shocked and saddened by death or injury because of fire.
“Both Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the government in Westminster have given strong assurances that robust alternative contingency arrangements were in place.
“We need to know exactly what happened and why, and the FBU will work to uncover all the circumstances.
“Central government needs to urgently end it’s complacency in addressing this issue.
“We wrote to the Fire Minister on Friday seeking an urgent meeting aimed at resolving the dispute. We are awaiting a response.”
Chief Insp Gerry McDonald, from Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “Our thoughts are with the man’s family at this time.
“We’re currently investigating the circumstances of the fire with specialist fire investigators from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
“However at this stage no one is being sought in connection with the incident.”