A four alarm blaze on Christmas Day has claimed the life of a 72-year-old Guelph man.

The man was discovered inside a house on Pauline Place by Guelph fire fighters.  Crews were called to the west-end neighbour shortly before 11pm.  The man, who has yet to be identified, was transported to Guelph General Hospital where he died from his injuries.

Guelph’s Fire Prevention Officer, Kim Hodgson, says plumes of grey smoke were already billowing from inside when crews arrived.  “Heavy, heavy smoke which prevented us early entry into the building.”

The house was gutted by the fire.  Damage is estimated at $250,000.  Neighbours reported seeing flames four or five feet in the air.  Burnt debris could be seen on the lawn and the fire blew out all of the home’s front windows.  The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has been called in to help determine the cause.

“We’re just at the preliminary stages, again, of our investigation”, said Hodgson.

The home is in an older subdivision and the area is inhabited by primarily older people, says neighbour Ralph Graham.  “I’m in my 70s and the majority of people are in their 50s to 70s”. 

By mid-morning, Guelph Police officers outnumbered fire investigators and took over the investigation into how the 72-year-old, unidentified, man died.  Officers spent much of the morning asking residents on Pauline Place and Sanderson Drive if anyone had seen how the fire started.

George Rai lives down the street and only noticed something was different by the flashing lights of police vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks.   He didn’t know the 72-year-old personally but was acquainted with him.  “He drives by all the time.  We say hello.  He’s a pretty quiet guy”, says Rai.

Several friends and family members of the 72-year-old came and went during the investigation.  Neighbours say a son and a daughter of his live in the neighbourhood.  

An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow to determine the cause of death.