Belfast Telegraph

Belfast woman dies after accidental fire at sheltered housing despite neighbours' efforts to save her

By Claire McNeilly

The death of a woman who sustained severe burns in a fire at her west Belfast home - despite neighbours' attempts to save her - has been described as a tragic accident.

The victim, thought to have been in her early 60s and suffering ill health, has been named locally as Maura Ashton.

She was critically injured in the blaze that broke out at her top floor flat in Ardnaclowney House, a sheltered housing complex off Beechmount Avenue, where she is understood to have been a long-term resident.

Police and firefighters attended the scene shortly before 4pm on Sunday and the woman was taken to hospital.

She was later pronounced dead.

It is believed she died from burns to her lower body sustained in the fire.

Three other residents were treated by paramedics at the scene for smoke inhalation.

The fire service said the blaze was "accidental", and the PSNI said it wasn't being "treated as suspicious at this time".

An investigation was being carried out yesterday morning and the flat was cordoned off.

Sinn Fein councillor Mary McConville extended her sympathies to the victim's family and friends.

"We are all very sad at her passing," she said.

"From what I understand it was a very tragic accident and very sad to hear.

"I think some of the neighbours tried to help her.

"She was living in sheltered accommodation but she was not an elderly lady. She was only in her early 60s but she had not been well for a while."

Ardnaclowney is run by Habinteg Housing Association and accommodates people aged over 60.

TUV Councillor Jolene Bunting said: "It is so tragic and an awful situation and I would like to pass my condolences onto the family."

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said the blaze was accidental and was discovered in the kitchen of the premises, where it was quickly put out with a fire extinguisher.

A NIFRS spokeswoman said that an automatic alarm at the complex alerted them to the incident.

"The thoughts and sympathies of NIFRS are with her family and friends," she said.

Yesterday, the PSNI confirmed the woman passed away in hospital from her injuries on Sunday evening.

"Police can confirm that a woman has died following a fire at a flat in the Ardnaclowney Drive area of west Belfast," she said. "The fire was reported to police just after 4pm on Sunday.

"The woman was taken to hospital for treatment to her injuries but died later that evening.

"The fire is not being treated as suspicious at this time."

Ardnaclowney House contains around 35 flats and was built some two decades ago.

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