A woman who died after a blaze at her home had dedicated her life to looking after her beloved mother, her family has said.
Marian Moreland (66) died after a fire at her Merrion Avenue home in Newcastle, Co Down yesterday morning.
Firefighters were called to the scene just after 9am and entered the bungalow using breathing apparatus.
It is understood that Miss Moreland was overcome by fumes and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The cul-de-sac in the seaside town was cordoned off yesterday as police and forensic specialists investigated the incident.
Miss Moreland’s cousin, Wilfred Reid, learned of the tragedy by chance. He had been staying in a caravan nearby with his wife, Margaret, and saw what had happened when he was out for a walk.
He told the Belfast Telegraph that Miss Moreland had dedicated her life to looking after her mother, Lily, after her father, Martin, had passed away nearly two decades ago. The pair lived together at the property until Lily went into residential care earlier this year.
Miss Moreland never married and had no children or siblings, according to Mr Reid.
“I’m shocked by this,” he said.
“She was very close to her mother and gave up work to look after her. They were always together.”
Miss Moreland’s next door neighbour, Roger Holland, described her as “a lovely woman who kept herself to herself”.
The 66-year-old was well-known in the town from her 16-year spell working in the household section of the Wadsworth store in the centre of Newcastle.
“Marian hadn’t been well recently and was using a Zimmer frame to get about,” said store owner Frank Wadsworth.
“It’s very sad news,” he added.
SDLP councillor Carmel O’Boyle said the tragedy had stunned Newcastle.
She extended her sympathy to Miss Moreland’s mother and wider family circle.
Alliance Newcastle councillor, Patrick Clarke, expressed his sadness at the death: “The whole community will feel the shock of this incident and I would call for anyone with information to come forward.”
The exact cause of the fire is not yet known.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police can confirm that a woman in her 60’s has died as a result of a fire in the Merrion Avenue of Newcastle this morning.
“Police are investigating the fire at the house and there are no further details.”
During a six-week period in March and April, seven older people died in accidental house fires across Northern Ireland.
78-year-old Sadie Ferguson who died in a house fire in Dromara, Co Down.
Albert Kane, (64), died after his home caught fire at Dervock, Ballymoney.
88-year-old Robert Fitzpatrick died after an incident at his property in Castlederg.
Elizabeth McGirr, (71), died along with her daughter Deirdre, (38), after a house fire in Dungannon.