Belfast Telegraph

Neighbours relive horrific blaze as OAP fights for life

By Brendan McDaid

The neighbours of a man engulfed in flames while fleeing his burning house have described the horrific scenes as they tried desperately to help him.

George Boyle (74), from Rose Court in the Waterside, Londonderry, is in a critical condition at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital.

Mr Boyle’s next door neighbour George McDowell saw Mr Boyle coming out of his back door with his clothes ablaze.

He said they were alerted to the blaze by passing neighbour Phil Cliff and his son Kieran.

“When I went out I saw the smoke and flames at the front. Kieran tried to go into the house but there were too many flames, you couldn’t have gone in.

“I ran out the back and it was even worse and I kept calling out ‘George, George’. Then I saw his body coming out the back door. Smoke and flames came out behind him. He was in flames. He was going to crawl up by his garden. I kept shouting to him ‘come my way’.

“I was shouting at the firemen to come round the back where George was and the flames were worse. They were out the front. They told us to pour water over him. I wiped his face. It was a nightmare. I have never seen anything like it in my life.”

Mr McDowell’s mother Eleanor said: “He is a lovely wee man. He is a gentleman. The whole Top of the Hill will be praying for George, and the Derry side too. He was well-known at Age Concern too. He would go down there for his dinner every day and any meat he got he kept it for his dogs.”

She found one of the terrified dogs upstairs in her own home.

Her son praised the actions of neighbours who worked with him until paramedics arrived. He said: “Only for them if they hadn’t got on the scene ... I just don’t know.”

It is understood the pensioner may have gone back into the house to rescue his dogs, Silver One and Silver Two. They were unharmed and are being cared for by neighbours.

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