EastEnders Aunt Sal star’s tragic death in house fire after ‘falling asleep with cigarette’

EastEnders will air icon Aunt Sal’s funeral next week - after the actor Anna Karen, who appeared on the soap between 1996 and 2017, sadly died following a fire in her home

EastEnders star Anna Karen tragically died in a house fire in 2022 that was reportedly started by a cigarette.

The actress was best known for playing the iconic Aunt Sal on the BBC soap. As the sharp-tongued sister of Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) Aunt Sal was a hit with viewers and made her debut in in 1996.

The character went on to star in over 50 episodes of the soap. She usually made an appearance at a Mitchell family occasion – and more often than not had something to say about the people present.

Her final appearance was in January 2017. Aunt Sal was last seen at the funeral of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell – who were killed off from the soap.

Aunt Sal was a firm-favourite on the soap

Over in Walford next week, the rest of the Mitchell clan are informed of Aunt Sal’s off-screen death. The soap will pay tribute to the character with her family attending her funeral.

In real-life though, sadly actress Anna died in 2022 aged 85 in a fire at her home on Windsor Road, Ilford. A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said at the time that the “cause of the fire is under investigation.”

The actress sadly died in 2022

However, Anna’s neighbours said that they thought it could have been caused by a cigarette. A source told The Sun: “She was apparently in bed at the time of the fire.”

The insider added: “It’s thought she fell asleep with a cigarette.” Meanwhile, Anna’s agent Shane Collins told the same publication: “We don’t know if it was an electrical fault or whether it was because she was smoking.”

It was reported three fire engines and around 20 firefighters from Ilford and Barking fire stations rushed to the scene. The team managed to get the blaze under control in less than an hour.

The fire was reportedly started by a cigarette

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A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Sadly, a woman has died following a house fire on Windsor Road in Ilford. Part of the ground floor of a mid-terrace house was damaged by fire. Sadly a woman was pronounced dead at the scene.”

EastEnders paid tribute to the actress as a spokesperson for the soap shared at the time that everyone was “deeply saddened” by the news of her death. The statement read: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Anna Karen has passed away.

“Anna created a sharp, quick witted and extremely popular character in Aunt Sal that the audience will never forget. Just as those who worked with her at EastEnders will never forget her warmth, kindness fun and good humour. Our love and thoughts are with Anna’s family and friends.”

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