Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 14:18 UK

Fire crews work to save historian Rendell's archive

Joan Rendell MBE, pictured in 1998
Joan Rendell, pictured here in 1998, wrote more than 30 books

Cornwall's fire service says that work has been carried out to preserve the archive of a local historian who died in a fire at her home.

The body of Joan Rendell MBE, 89, was found after her bungalow at Yeolmbridge caught fire on Tuesday.

The alarm was raised by a person who was visiting the property. The building was severely damaged and her body was found at the scene, police said.

Gareth Jones of the fire service said books and other materials were saved.

Matchbox collection

Miss Rendell wrote more than 30 books and was appointed a Cornish bard by Gorseth Kernow, the organisation which promotes the study of Cornish literature, art, music and history.

She was also an avid collector of matchbox covers and had an estimated collection of 300,000.

Two fire crews from Launceston and one each from Callington and Bude were called to the property near Launceston at about 1445 BST on Tuesday after the fire was reported.

The manager of Bodmin fire station, Gareth Jones, said work began quickly to preserve her archive material.

Scene of fatal bungalow fire
Miss Rendell's body was found at the scene

He said: "Quite early on, once we damped down the fire, we started a salvage operation to remove some of the books and other things that were contained in the unaffected rooms of the property.

"A lot is water-damaged. I'm not sure how much we've managed to salvage.

"But it's being taken away by the town council and hopefully they'll be able to do something with it."

An investigation has begun into the fire's cause, but it is not believed to be suspicious.

Tribute was paid to Miss Rendell by the rector of her local church in Werrington.

The Reverend Ken Wakefield said her loss would be felt across the area.

He said: "She continued to work for the church until last year, when she laid down the position of parish church council secretary.

"Her great, great love in her life - next to what she did in her life with Old Cornwall Society, which is going to be devastated - was the church."

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Bungalow fire kills elderly woman
04 May 10 |  Cornwall

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