Friends have paid tribute to a "lovely" grandmother-of-two who died in a South Norwood house fire.

Eulin Hastings, 74, was pulled from her home by firefighters following the blaze in Birchanger Road on Tuesday afternoon.

A murder investigation has now been launched following her death, police revealed on Thursday, January 12.

Croydon Guardian:

Flowers have been left outside Ms Hastings' home  

Friends and neighbours have today paid tribute to the mother-of-three.

Janice Kentfield, 42, said: "She was a church-going lady, very active and very youthful. I was surprised to find out she was 74.

"She was very chatty, very neighbourly. We would often stop and talk in the street.

"I know she has a son, in his 40s, maybe a bit older. He would come round with the two kids, they seemed like a close-knit family."

A close friend of Ms Hastings, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "We knew her well. She was a lovely and will be missed immensely.

"She was a loving grandmother and It's such a shame to have lost her like this."

Fourteen firefighters and officers from West Norwood and Beckenham fire stations were called to the blaze, which was under control by 4.10pm.

An air ambulance landed at the nearby South Norwood Academy primary school as parents were collecting their children at the end of the school day.

Ms Kentfield returned home just moments after fire crews arrived to find thick black smoke pouring out of the flat.

She added: "I drove down birchanger and I initially actually thought the fire was here because you could see the smoke rising.

"I could see the fire crews working on her. She was in the pathway of her garden.

"They [the fire crews] were absolutely amazing. They were working on her for about 20 or so minutes.

"But you could tell it wasn't going to be a positive outcome by their reactions.

"The road was chaotic, but very calm - silence almost.

"We had the police helicopter going on, and then the air ambulance coming in - which I can't believe landed in that school."

Prior to the incident, police were called at around 3pm to reports of a suspected burglary in nearby Davidson Road.

Officers attended the scene and a man, who was in possession of a knife, was seen to flee from the property.

He was located in the vicinity of Davidson Road and was seen to climb on the roofs of a number of properties.

The 26-year-old man, who came down from the roof after officers cornered him in nearby Christie Drive at about 8.05pm, was arrested.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: "At this early stage in the investigation, detectives believe the murder and the burglary are linked.

"Enquiries are underway to establish the circumstances that led to her death and the burglary."

Detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, led by Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn, are investigating and are appealing for witnesses and information.

"Both incidents occurred during the middle of the afternoon and there is a possibility someone may have seen something that could assist detectives with their investigation."

During the investigation it was established that the man was wanted on recall to prison for a separate offence.

He has been returned to prison and bailed pending further enquiries to a date in late January in relation to this investigation.

Anyone who witnessed or has any information about either incident is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8721 4805, or police via 101