THE cause of the flat fire that killed a woman and left a man severely burned remains unexplained, as detectives wait to speak to the 25-year-old in hospital.

The man, believed to be Robert Vaughan but better known as Sam, was taken to Frenchay Hospital, in Bristol, after suffering burns and smoke inhalation in the fire at his flat in Thorley Court, Abbey Meads.

Yesterday afternoon he regained consciousness but he remains in intensive care.

His condition is now described as stable, but police must wait to interview him about the circumstances that lead to the fatal blaze.

Meanwhile, a post-mortem examination on the 32-year-old woman, who was formally identified as Sharron McQuarrie, was conducted by a Home Office pathologist at Flax Bourton, near Bristol, on Tuesday but the cause of death will not be known until toxicology tests have been completed.

At this stage police are treating her death as suspicious and unexplained.

Detective Inspector Matt Davey, of the Brunel Major Crime Investigation Team, said Mr Vaughan was a key witness in the inquiry.

He said: “The exact circumstances of how this fire started are yet to be established and we will be speaking to the man who is in hospital as part of our investigation.

“Clearly, his welfare takes priority and I will be guided by his doctors to let me know when this will be possible.

“He was critical when he first went in due to complications with the smoke inhalation but there has been a marked improvement.

“The forensic work at the flat has all but finished and fire investigators have concluded their report but I cannot divulge details of the examination.

“All I can say is we are still treating the fire as unexplained.

“A major part of the inquiry is to speak to the man in hospital. There is no indication any third part was involved in the fire.”

He said about 25 officers worked on the case within the Major Investigation Team, which took on the case due to the complex nature of the investigation and the specialist search and forensic teams required.

Last night the police tape had been removed from outside the flats at Thorley Court, but police are maintaining a presence until the front doors damaged during the evacuation of residents have been made secure.

Residents are still living in alternative accommodation and handymen worked to fix the damage yesterday.

Alistair Clark, 37, whose flat overlooks the car park, said: “You know fires like this happen but when it is so close it is shocking.

“I was asleep and didn’t see or hear anything but you start thinking ‘could I have done something if I had known?’ “There was a really heavy police presence in the 48 hours after it happened. There are still a few police but nowhere near as many.”

Anyone who has information or was in the area of Thorley Court between the hours of 10.30pm on Sunday and 2.30am on Monday should contact Wiltshire Police via 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.