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Rescued sons of fire victim made desperate bid to get back into house to save him

By Cate McCurry

A man who tried to save his father from a burning house has made an emotional visit to the scene where the 55-year-old died.

Barry Toal, who was described as a "great family man", died after being trapped in an upstairs room as a blaze engulfed his home.

Relatives gathered outside the property on Culdee Drive in Armagh yesterday to pay tribute to him.

A gallant rescue attempt was made by two sons of the deceased on Friday night as the inferno engulfed the house.

Neighbours rescued family members from the burning home, who then tried to get back inside in an attempt the get to Mr Toal.

A ladder was placed at the back of the house, but rescue attempts were beaten back by the intensity of flames.

Two men, understood to be the dead man's sons, were treated for smoke inhalation.

Armagh Lord Mayor Garath Keating visited the scene and described a sight of devastation, with some survivors blackened by the smoke as they attempted to rescue others.

"This is a traumatic event for everyone," he said.

"It is a tragedy."

"Two people were rescued from the house by neighbours who then tried to get back in to rescue Mr Toal.

"They got a ladder and tried to break the upstairs window.

"The two people were taken to a neighbour's house and were in a traumatised state.

"It is a terrible tragedy. I would commend the quick response of the emergency services who stopped the fire spreading to other properties, and the neighbours who tried to help.

"As a community, we will be doing all we can to help the family."

Neighbours and friends have started a drive to raise funds to provide shelter and clothing for the family members who had been living in the house.

A number of people have posted tributes to Mr Toal on social media.

One friend said: "You were a great family man, my heart goes out to all of the family."

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said five emergency appliances and 30 personnel were sent to deal with the blaze scene, the cause of which is still under investigation.

"Appliances from Armagh fire station arrived first at the scene and were quickly supported by crews from Keady and Portadown fire stations," it said.

"A command support unit from Lisburn fire station also attended.

"Fire crews commenced firefighting operations on the fire on the first floor and roof space, which had caused extensive fire and smoke damage to the property.

"Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and using firefighting jets were able to bring the fire under control quickly, and prevent fire spread to adjoining properties. But unfortunately they discovered that a person had lost their life in the incident.

"The thoughts and sympathies of all those in NIFRS are with the family and friends of the person who has lost their life in this tragic incident."

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