Two dogs die in house blaze: Pets killed as burning oil destroys home and neighbouring gardens in Portadown
Neighbours of a woman and child who escaped a fire that gutted their house and killed their two dogs have spoken of their shock at the blaze.
The fire at Ballyoran Park in Portadown on Saturday afternoon caused major damage to a neighbouring house, destroyed six garden sheds and caused smoke damage to other properties.
The accidental blaze started shortly before 4pm with the burning of rubbish in the woman's garden, which spread to nearby oil tanks and garden fences.
Five fire appliances with specialist equipment were quickly on the scene, where they stayed for more than two hours.
Neighbour Tony Hendron, who captured the devastation on camera, said it was a miracle nobody had been killed.
"The fire ran down the back alleys in between the houses," he added. "The oil ran out, ran down the hill, all through the gardens, 30 or 40 yards. It has completely destroyed one house. The dogs there, two Lurchers, were in the back garden penned in."
Describing what happened as "horrific", Mr Hendron said: "Three families are out of their homes, but it could have been a lot worse if there had been kids playing about."
Speaking from the scene, Upper Bann MLA Delores Kelly said residents were upset by the fire and the deaths of the two dogs.
"It is quite unusual what occurred," she added. "It is a close community and people are shocked at what happened. They are saddened at this loss and what has happened to their homes.
"It's quite miraculous that people got out unscathed because the fire spread very quickly.
"(In) the next row, some of the windows have been damaged, as well as the garden fences on both blocks."
Sinn Fein councillor Gemma McKenna said it was a difficult time for everyone involved and praised the Fire Service's response.
"Their actions prevented anyone being injured during the fire and thankfully ensured everyone was safe," she added.
"My thoughts are with those people who have lost their homes and those whose homes have been damaged."
Fire Service Commander William Weir told how an investigation had concluded the blaze had started accidentally.
He said some rubbish in the garden, which had been burnt earlier in the day and left unattended, reignited and set fire to a fence and then an oil tank, which intensified the fire.
"The tank then released even more oil that flowed between two rows of houses and sheds," added Mr Weir.
"There were two pets belonging to the householder that perished. They had been inside an enclosure – a shed – when the oil fire engulfed the shed and the dogs died."