Belfast Telegraph

'Terrifying' scenes in quiet street as mother-of-four dies in fire at her home

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Shocked residents have told of the dramatic scene they awoke to after a mother-of-four was killed in a blaze at her home.

The woman has been named locally as Siobhan Devlin and was described by residents as a "lovely woman" who "kept herself to herself".

The fatal fire occurred yesterday morning in the garage of Ms Devlin's home in Oakleigh Park off the Brownstown Road in Portadown, Co Armagh.

It was reported to police shortly before 7.20am.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

It is understood that Ms Devlin was from Portadown and had lived at the address for more than 20 years and was married to Patrick Devlin.

She had worked as a nurse in the past and lived in Belfast for a period of time before returning to Portadown.

The family are said to be devastated but did not wish to comment.

The quiet residential area, which is less than a mile from the centre of Portadown, was closed off yesterday as teams of police, fire and forensic workers examined the house.

Shaken residents recalled the scenes they saw.

Neighbour John White (82) said: "I was in bed when I heard the commotion and racket this morning and I got up.

"Everyone was out in their pyjamas and dressing gowns.

"There were no flames or blaze just billowing smoke from the garage.

"The fire brigade were here very quickly.

"We are all just so shocked at what has happened.

"Everyone is just devastated."

Residents close to the house, who were evacuated when the alarm was raised, described Ms Devlin as "a lovely girl" with a "very good family".

They said: "We have been here for years and you can't fault them as neighbours."

They described the scenes as "terrifying".

A local female resident said: "At 7.15 this morning when I looked out the window everything was black, all I could see was smoke.

"I thought it was a chimney fire until I saw the amount of smoke moving down the road."

A mother told the Belfast Telegraph her son couldn't see his car because of the smoke.

She said: "At 7.15 we thought it was a chimney on fire but when I felt the wood burning I knew it was much more.

"My son couldn't even see his car there was so much smoke around, it was so bad.

"He then ran up the road to see what had happened.

"He was one of the ones who called for the fire brigade. Three fire engines came to the house. It's all just so sad."

Another resident who did not wish to be named said yesterday evening that he could still smell smoke in his house.

He had left for work before the blaze began but said: "I am in a state of shock. People around here can't believe it's happened, it's just awful.

"Now we will have to wait for a police investigation to find out exactly what happened, but I don't think we will ever get over it."

Local UUP councillor Arnold Hatch, who was previously a member of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Board, said it was a tragedy.

"My sympathy is with the wider family circle. I also sympathise with those officers who come across situations like this."

Investigations are under way to determine the cause of the fire.

Belfast Telegraph

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