Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Call for memorial garden at house fire site

The chairman of Omagh council has called for the house where a family of seven perished in a fire last week to be pulled down and replaced with a memorial garden.

Bert Wilson of the UUP said he is "almost certain" that a neighbouring property will also have to be demolished and added that children attending the primary school next to the horrific scene should have somewhere to go to remember their friends.

It has also emerged that the funerals of Arthur McElhill (39), a convicted sex offender thought to have started the blaze, his partner, Lorraine McGovern (30) and their five children may not occur for another fortnight.

Postmortem examinations have recorded that the pair and Caroline (13), Sean (7), Bellina (4), Clodagh, 18 months, and 10-month old baby James died from smoke inhalation.

Sources say that rumours that Ms McGovern was pregnant remain unfounded.

A number of families from the terraced houses adjoining the ruins of 4 Lammy Crescent have still not been allowed to return to their homes as structural engineers survey the damage.

Police found a significant quantity of petrol in the house and the blaze was so intense that the roof collapsed.

The house is close to St Conor's Primary School, where Sean and Bellina were pupils.

Their friends and classmates received counselling when the school re-opened for lessons on Friday following the fire early on Tuesday morning.

Mr Wilson said: "Obviously the house is coming down and I am almost certain that the next door property will also have to go, as the roof collapse would have pulled timbers away and there is also the heat damage to consider.

"I think both of the houses should make way for a garden or a memorial, especially seeing as it is so close to the school.

"Rather than have a constant reminder of the fire, there could be somewhere for the children to go to remember their friends."

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