Relatives of a wartime Resistance hero who died in a fire at her flat could claim a £100,000 windfall - if they can solve a 30-year mystery.

Mary Lorraine, 59, died in 1973 when a candle fire spread through her squalid flat in smart Sussex Square in Brighton, just hours before she was due to be evicted.

Brighton County Court had ordered her out because of £55 rent arrears and she had also been living without electricity for two years after failing to pay her bills.

But 30 years after her death, it has emerged she had assets worth at least £100,000 which are on offer to any next-of-kin who can be traced.

Peter Birchwood, of professional genealogy firm Celtic Research, has been approached by solicitors wanting to settle her estate.

He said: "Usually our work is to trace the next-of-kin of people who have died within the last year or two so we were very surprised to get a case which is 30 years old.

"Very little seems to be known about this woman and any family she might have had but we have been told she had assets of some kind worth maybe £100,000 or £110,000."

Twice-married Ms Lorraine, who also used the surnames Grant and Ward, died in the early hours of September 5, 1973.

She had helped Resistance forces in Belgium and Holland during the Second World War, narrowly evading capture on several occasions.

Her death certificate gave her occupation as a journalist but in her final years she appears to have become a recluse, suffering from alcoholism and mental health problems.

The night before she died, Brighton's chief medical officer visited her and arranged for her to move into a hospital bed the next day.

Dr Parker told an inquest: "Her speech was slurred and I assumed from what I had been told that she was drunk.

"There were some old bruises on her face said to be the result of her falling out of bed."

He arranged her mattress on the floor to prevent a repeat before leaving, promising she would be moved to hospital the next day.

However, after a candle set fire to the mattress the alarm was raised shortly after 7am the next day by Laura Aldous, 85-year-old caretaker of the flats.

Firefighters broke down the front door but were unable to save Ms Lorraine.

Crews had been called to her flat the previous November to rescue her from a similar fire in her bed.

Mrs Aldous, who described her neighbour as "constantly drunk" and always falling over, said she heard cries for help during the night of the fire.

She said: "I was so used to cries for help that I took no notice. I went back to sleep."

However, her Brighton solicitor Denis Chesters tried to paint a more positive picture.

He said: "She was a distinguished member of the Resistance movement during the last war, operating on the continent mostly in Belgium and Holland.

"She carried the scars of war and was a brave woman."

Ms Lorraine was the daughter of Mabel Love, a music hall actress during the Marie Lloyd era.

Mr Birchwood said: "We can find no record of her birth in the UK, nor any relatives. But if there were any, I think the £100,000 assets would make it worthwhile for them to come forward."

Anyone with information should call 01650 511719.