Belfast Telegraph

Pensioner rescued from fire

by Chris McCann

A north Belfast pensioner says she is “lucky to be alive” after she was carried to safety following a fire at a neighbour’s flat.

Firefighters kicked through Mary Swain’s door at her Rathcoole Drive home in the early hours of Saturday morning after a fire broke out at the flat across the hallway from her.

The fire alarm in her Housing Executive home failed to go off, meaning the 84-year-old was oblivious to the danger until firefighters picked her up and brought her to safety.

The pensioner didn’t even have time to put a dressing gown and slippers on.

The fire is understood to have been started by accident.

Firefighters found a 42-year-old woman unconscious in a bedroom of the property where the fire started. She was given oxygen before being transferred to hospital.

The woman wasn’t at the property when the Community Telegraph visited on Tuesday afternoon.

Mary said she feels she had a “lucky escape” following the incident.

“I feel lucky to be alive. The firefighters came up, broke down the front door, and took me downstairs. I stayed at my niece’s that night.

“What can you do though? I know I had a lucky escape. I had to downstairs without my dressing gown or slippers on and it was a bit cold, but I’m okay.”

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds commended the firefighters for their “rapid and effective response” to this life-threatening incident. “This fire could clearly have resulted in serious injuries or loss of life.

“We are indebted to the fire-fighters for entering the block of maisonettes and rescuing residents who were in danger, one of whom was unconscious. It is a great relief that the consequences of this blaze were not even more severe.”

A Housing Executive spokesperson said damage to the flat is considerable and that staff have been assessing the repairs needed in the block, including Miss Swain’s adjacent flat which suffered smoke damage.

“We are awaiting a report on the cause of the fire from the Fire and Rescue Service. Flats in the block had smoke alarms installed and we have not received a report of a problem relating to the alarm in Miss Swain’s flat. We are, however, arranging to have this checked.”

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