Vigil for parents and baby pulled from north Belfast house blaze
The families of a couple and a baby who are fighting for their lives after they were trapped in a house fire are keeping a bedside vigil.
The young parents, named locally as Colm Largey and Christina Duffy and their daughter 14-week-old Holly, were rushed to hospital following the blaze in Jamaica Street in north Belfast on Thursday night.
A spokeswoman from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said the pair in their 20s and the infant remained in a critical condition.
Neighbours smashed through the front door and windows using their bare hands in a bid to rescue the family.
Neighbour Paul Savage said: "We couldn't get up the stairs or see an inch in front of us, but the emergency services were here in minutes.
"The wee baby was carried out wrapped in a blanket." he added.
Up to 20 firefighters and four appliances tackled the blaze.
Mr Savage said: "I was holding Christina's hand in the ambulance as she was unconscious."
The immediate family of the couple and infant are keeping a constant vigil at their hospital bedsides.
Grainne Smyth, whose husband is a cousin of the family and lives nearby, said: "We are devastated, we can just pray and hope they'll be OK.
"Colm kept himself to himself and just looked after his family," Ms Smyth said.
It is not yet clear what started the blaze and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said it could take some time to find the cause.
One neighbour who made his way in to the smoke-filled living room to try and help said it looked like the fire started at the settee.
Thomas Clarke said another rescuer was hurt when trying to get to the family at the back of the house.
"The young guy fell through the roof of a sunroom after climbing up to break a window. I went in to try and get him but he managed to climb back out himself." His injuries are not believed to be serious.
It has emerged there was no working smoke alarm in the rented property, which the couple had only recently occupied.
A taxi driver raised the alarm.
Fire Service station commander William Johnston said: "We could have been looking at a worse situation but I cannot over-emphasise the need for people to have a working smoke detector."
Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry McCabe said: "If it wasn't for the quick reaction of the community, we could be looking at an entirely different situation right now."
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said: "This was a terrible and horrific incident which has left a baby girl and her parents in a critical condition in hospital.
"Everyone's thoughts are with this family at this time and I hope and pray that they will make a full recovery.
"I wish to commend the bravery of the firefighters who rescued them from this house fire and also those local residents who did all that they could to give assistance."
It's emerged that the same fire crew was called to another blaze at another north Belfast home yesterday.
An elderly woman was taken to hospital for treatment for breathing smoke after a suspected chip pan fire broke out at a house in Rosscoole Park shortly after 6pm.