Belfast Telegraph

Police 'open-minded' on fire deaths

Whoever started a deliberate fire which killed an elderly widow and her daughter may not have meant to hurt them, police said.

Betty McGirr, 71, and Deirdre McGirr, 38, died on Saturday night when the blaze ripped through their top-floor flat in Dunlea Vale, Dungannon, Co Tyrone.

Betty McGirr was visiting her daughter when the inferno started at the back of the house at about 10pm.

A third person, Portuguese and understood to be Deirdre's partner, escaped unhurt. He was in a long-term relationship with her and is not suspected of involvement with the fire, police said.

Police Service of Northern Ireland detective chief inspector Gareth Talbot appealed to the fire-starter: "It may not have been your intention to hurt anyone or things may have got out of control.

"I would ask you to search your conscience, consider the feelings of the McGirr family - please let them have some kind of closure around this and come forward to us and tell us what happened."

Post-mortem examinations have been carried out on the bodies.

DCI Talbot added: "We now believe this fire was deliberate and are working to ascertain the exact details."

He was holding a briefing at Dungannon police station at which he said investigators were not treating it as a murder inquiry at present, instead keeping an open mind.

Dungannon area commander chief inspector Jane Humphries said the community had been devastated by the deaths.

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