ILKLEY'S outgoing MP John Grogan is pressing West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for answers on the level of cover in the town following a fatal fire last week.

An 89-year-old woman died in the blaze at a flat on Cowpasture Road on the morning of Thursday, October 31.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to the large three-storey terraced property with seven flats at 8.34am on Thursday.

Fire engines from Otley, Silsden and Rawdon stations attended as well as an aerial appliance from Bradford.

Attending fire crews quickly extinguished the fire, which destroyed the building's roof, but despite their best efforts the woman sadly passed away at the property. Her family have been informed.

The fire service, working with West Yorkshire Police, managed to locate all the other residents and lead them to safety.

Bradford District Commander Benjy Bush said: “We extend our deepest condolences to the lady’s friends and family at this difficult time."

He said a specialist fire investigation officer had been onsite to establish the circumstances of the fire.

Mr Grogan has now written to West Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer John Roberts asking a number of questions following the fire.

He said: "The emergency services as always are to be commended for their response to the fire in Ilkley last week which resulted in the tragic death of an elderly lady. I understand the Ilkley fire engine was not available to respond, however, which is a matter of public concern.

"I have consequently written to the West Yorkshire Chief Fire Officer John Roberts asking him:

1) What was the response time of the first vehicle on site to the incident in Ilkley?

2) In addition, for how much of the week is the Ilkley engine, on average, currently available to respond?"

Mr Grogan added: "A decade ago there were six fire engines covering the Keighley constituency - two at Keighley, two at Silsden, one at Haworth and one at Ilkley. Now there are only three with one each at Keighley, Silsden and Ilkley.

"It would seem to me absolutely essential that those three vehicles are able to respond around the clock. Silsden and Ilkley fire engines are crewed by retained firefighters who do not work full-time but spend long periods of time on call to respond when needed. I know recruitment is a problem for the retained service but there needs to be a public debate about what we can expect from our fire service and what level of funding it needs."

Following the fire praise was heaped on those who did their best to help.

A police community support officer was hailed a "hero" for risking her life. PCSO Broadbent was there before any other emergency services.

A spokesperson from Keighley Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) said: "She proved a true hero and ran towards the danger evacuating people from the neighbouring flats.

"She risked her own life to save others and we are very proud of her.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the lady that sadly died."

Posting on social media, local resident Aidan Graves said: "She was excellent, she banged on my door and woke me up which I am thankful to her. Well done and thank you for risking your life for us all."

Heidi Ellert-Mcdermott was in the ground floor flat with her husband and two children on the morning the fire started.

She said: "It was obviously a terrible shock and we are deeply saddened by the death of the lady in the top flat.

"My six year old daughter Senen has had many questions and was understandably shocked and upset by what happened, as is our son Ingo (aged five). Senen is very keen to thank all the brave fire people, PCSO, police officers and paramedics who attended the scene.

"We were only visiting the area and would like to extend out sincere gratitude.

"Senen wanted to pay a special tribute to Roger, a neighbour, for alerting us to the fire above and the two smartly dressed men who encouraged us to get out quickly (from my understanding they were simply passers by).

"From such a horrible tragedy, we are reminded of how many fantastic and brave people there are in this world to help people when they are in need. Thank you, Ilkley."

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "The Wharfe Valley is deemed a very low risk area. All three fire stations in this area operate on our ‘on-call’ / retained duty system; these being Ilkley, Silsden and Otley.

"On-call firefighters who work this duty system are mobilised via an alerter and must arrive at the fire station within five minutes, from where they respond to an incident in a fire engine.

"There must be a minimum of four firefighters on call at any one time for the fire engine to be available. At the time of call to the incident at Cowpasture Road, the Ilkley fire engine did not have four on-call firefighters available and therefore the fire engine was unavailable for fire calls.

"Three fire engines were mobilised to the incident – from Otley, Silsden and Rawdon fire stations. The Otley fire engine arrived first and the time from mobilisation of the fire engine by our Control Room to arriving at the incident was 13 minutes and 38 seconds.

"The cause of the fire is still being investigated by our fire investigation team."