Fire victim was 'well-known neighbour'
A “lovely woman” in her forties who died in a house fire on the outskirts of west Belfast was well-known to her neighbours in the area.
Thursday, 04 April 2013
The victim has been named locally as Patricia Hetherington after the blaze broke out in the attic of the property in Lenadoon Avenue in the early hours of Thursday.
Neighbours tried in vain to rescue her from the severe fire, but firefighter found her body in a bedroom in the attic.
Ms Hetherington had lived in the area for over 20 years.
Sharon Gray, her neighbour and friend, said she "always had a smile on her face and a friendly word for people".
"She did become a friend and we spoke; we had a laugh and to know that her house was on fire is terrible," she said.
Fergal Maguire was one of three neighbours who tried to rescue Ms Hetherington.
He said he ran across to help after his son alerted him to the fire.
"The three of us tried to get up the stairs," he told UTV.
Mr Maguire said they tried a few times to get upstairs with no success.
"On the last attempt we got up the stairs, the ceiling collapsed and basically we got half way up the stairs - one of the neighbours was starting to choke and get the effects of the smoke, so I took the decision and said to everybody: 'Get out, it's too late'.
"We managed to get out of the house and I'm very sorry to hear of the consequences of what had happened in the end, but we did try our best, it's just a pity we couldn't get to the woman."
He said the room seemed like an "inferno", adding he was distressed to see the victim's son had arrived at the scene when the group came back out of the house.
Police and the Fire and Rescue Service are investigating the cause of the blaze.
Alan Hamill, from the Fire and Rescue Service, said crews worked in "very punishing conditions" to put out the blaze.
"The first fire crews were faced with a very severe fire on the first floor in the attic of a semi-detached house.
"It became apparent quite quickly of the possibility that someone was still inside the house.
He added: "Unfortunately [firefighters] quickly discovered the deceased in a bedroom in the attic of the house."
Mr Hamill said extensive fire damage inside the house meant it was not clear if smoke alarms had been fitted.