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Parents and baby girl fight for their lives after house fire in north Belfast

Neighbour tells of his frantic bid to rescue the family

By Claire Williamson

Published 03/04/2015

Police and firefighters at the scene of a major house fire in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Thursday night. 3 occupants including an infant believed to be aged 18 months.
Picture: Kevin Scott
Police and firefighters at the scene of a major house fire in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Thursday night. 3 occupants including an infant believed to be aged 18 months. Picture: Kevin Scott
Police and firefighters at the scene of a major house fire in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Thursday night. 3 occupants including an infant believed to be aged 18 months. Picture: Kevin Scott
Police and firefighters at the scene of a major house fire in the Ardoyne area of North Belfast on Thursday night. 3 occupants including an infant believed to be aged 18 months. Picture: Kevin Scott

A baby girl and her parents are in a critical condition in hospital after a fire at their home in Ardoyne.

The fire started at around midnight at a property in Jamaica Street in the north of the city.

Neighbours frantically fought to gain access to the house in a bid to help rescue the man and woman, believed to be aged in their mid 20s and a baby girl.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Station Commander William Johnston said four appliances were sent to the scene with around 20 crew members at the peak of the incident.

The PSNI and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service also attended.

Mr Johnston said the three occupants were unconscious when they were retrieved by fire crews wearing breathing apparatus  in the upstairs bedroom at the front of the house.

A spokesman for the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast said the parents and child were in a critical condition.

Neighbours have been praised by the NIFRS for their help in raising the alarm.

Among those was Paul Savage who tired to gain entry to the house.

He said: "My main concern was whoever was in the house to get them out. That was the only thing, it was nothing about being a hero, there is no point being a hero.

"Once the door went in, you knew right away it was down to the firemen, we couldn't do anything, we couldn't even get up the stairs.

He added:"It was pure instinct to go down and get this wee family out. There was no sign of anybody squealing out of the house so once the fire was put out they were all unconscious.

"I just sat beside the wee girl and held her hand while the paramedic worked on her and he got her round and thank god she was breathing."

Police are appealing for information following the fire which they have said it is "still under investigation".

Inspector Paul Noble said:"The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however I would ask anyone who was in the area at the time of the fire to contact Police on the non-emergency number 101, as they may have information which could help Police with their investigation."

Mr Johnston said the property did not have working smoke alarms and reiterated the importance of having them in all homes.

He said: "They (smoke alarms) are a life saver and we could have been there sooner."

Mr Johnston also thanked members of the public for their help.

"The neighbours were very helpful. There were a lot of people around and they were assisting the fire crews.

"Some people had tried to gain access but were beaten back by the intensity of the smoke and heat."

Substantial damage has been caused to the ground floor of the property, particularly the kitchen area.

However, the flames were prevented from spreading to the adjoining house, Mr Johnston said.

Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry McCabe has said that the local community of Ardoyne are in shock at the incident.

Mr McCabe said: "First and foremost, our thoughts and the thoughts of local residents, are with those in hospital and their wider family and friends.

“The community is in shock at this fire. We do have a man, woman and child in hospital. They have been life long residents in Ardoyne.

“While it is too early to indicate the cause of the fire it is my understanding that it was the quick actions of local people and the fire brigade in tackling this fire that led to people being rescued from the blaze.

“We are all praying that those in hospital do make a speedy recovery.”

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