Neighbours have spoken of the screaming they heard as a house fire killed two people in Birminghan today.

Their bodies were discovered by firefighters tackling the fire in Wensleydale Road, Perry Barr. They were named locally as Michael and Denise Worsfold.

Mr Worsfold, aged 64, and his wife were described as “a lovely couple” by stunned neighbours. One of the neighbours tried to battle his way into the blazing semi-detached house inin a bid to reach the couple, but he was beaten back by flames and smoke.

Another neighbour, Stuart Lancaster, described how he heard Mrs Worsfold screaming. He said: “I heard lots of fire engines and a female screaming. I could smell strong smoke.”

Shirley White, who has lived on Wensleydale Road for 53 years and is a member of the Perry Hall Community Association, said: “It is tragic, especially at this time of the year. We would go on day trips together and they seemed like a lovely couple.”

Elsie Juchnowicz, secretary of the Perry Hall Community Association, said: “This is very sad, it will come as a shock to people today as they find out.

“They were active members of the association up until a year or two ago due to her ill health and they could not take part in our day trips. I used to deliver copies of our magazine to them and would stop for a chat.

"He was a very intelligent, very friendly, very sociable man who would ask you how you were. He was always writing letters to the press when he didn’t agree with things and you used to see his name in the paper.

“They were a very pleasant couple who had lived on the road for years.”

The blaze broke out shortly after 4am. Neighbours on both sides of the property were evacuated as firefighters battled to control the flames.

West Midlands Fire Service Group Commander Nigel Sowden confirmed: “The fire has unfortunately resulted in two fatalities.

“Six firefighters entered the property and extinguished the flames.

“I would not like to second guess the cause at this stage. Specially trained officers are involved in that.”

An ambulance service spokesman added: “Unfortunately, the bodies of two people were discovered inside the building.

“A man in his 20s who had been alerted to the fire and tried to get into the building was treated for minor burns by ambulance staff. He did not require hospital treatment.”

Fire crews from Perry Barr, Aston and Handsworth stations attended and doused the flames, but not before the fire had spread to neighbouring properties.

By 7am the fire was out and fire crews were this morning damping helping to make sure the building is safe. The road remained cordoned off while police and fire investigators were trying to piece together the cause.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said that the two victims have yet to be formally identified.

He said: “Motorists are advised that the road will remain closed for some time while emergency services remain at the scene.”