A house fire on Christmas morning has claimed the life of a 61-year-old woman on the New South Wales far south coast.
Emergency services were called to the home on Sapphire Coast Drive, Tura Beach, about 10 kilometres north of Merimbula, at 12:30am after a neighbour woke to find smoke filling his bedroom.
He told police from Far South Coast Local Area Command the couple who lived there were still inside.
Two officers ran into the burning building and found a 67-year-old man on the floor and dragged him to safety.
However, the intensity of the fire prevented them from searching further.
NSW Fire and Rescue Superintendent Norman Buckley said the search for the missing woman had been hampered by the destruction of the home.
“We have had a ceiling collapse which makes it very very difficult for firefighters to get in there and do a thorough search, we have had crews on a rotation basis right through the night,” Superintendent Buckley said.
Fire investigators and Police forensic officers then drove to the site from Sydney and Goulburn this morning, when they were finally able to enter the home’s ruins.
The grim discovery was then made of the woman’s body.
Police say while the body has not been formally identified, it is believed to be that of the missing 61-year-old woman.
The 67-year-old man remains in the South East Regional Hospital in Bega suffering from smoke inhalation.
Investigations are continuing into the cause of the blaze.
A report is also being prepared for the NSW Coroner.