A Christmas tree is the focus of an investigation into horrific house fire which claimed the lives of two sisters.
Anngeline Brogan (28) and her younger sister Jody (25) were found in an upstairs bedroom of their home in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
Anngeline was pronounced dead at the scene while her sister died shortly afterwards at Letterkenny General Hospital.
A man in his 20s who was in the house at the time of the fire – which had broken out at about 11am – but had been at the back of the dwelling, escaped injury and was able to raise the alarm.
He was admitted to hospital for checks but was later released.
The women's distraught uncle arrived with other relatives at the scene later in the morning.
"It's just awful, just awful," he said.
"We can't take this in."
A cousin of the sisters, who arrived at the two-storey semi-detached house a short time later, threw herself to the ground in tears. As she screamed, gardai at the scene tried to comfort her.
"It was a dreadful scene," said local GP and former government minister Jim McDaid who was called to the estate.
"It was horrific to see the result of what was clearly a very intense fire which burned in both the living room and the bedroom above where the girls were.
"It is a terrible, terrible tragedy for the family."
Parish priest Fr Brian Quinn said the incident was "traumatic".
Garda forensic investigators spent the day examining the house after four fire tenders left the area at lunchtime.
They were concentrating their investigation in the living room at the front of the house, where a Christmas tree had been located.
The bedroom where the two women died is located immediately above the living room.
Neighbours expressed shock at the tragedy.
"We can't believe this has happened here," one said. "They were two lovely girls, full of life."
Local councillor and former Letterkenny mayor Gerry McMonagle, who knows the Brogan family, said the entire town had been left "in grief" after the deaths.
"I've known the family for years and they are devastated. I don't think it has even sunk in yet but it will over the next few days and people will be more distraught," he said.
Friends of the young women – who were both former pupils at the nearby Errigal College – left hundreds of messages on their Facebook pages last night.
One read: "Such beautiful girls. Heaven has gained two angels."
Jody had posted a message on her Facebook page just a few days ago to welcome in the new year.
It read: "To all who have lost someone, gained someone and who have yet to become someone, may 2014 be a better year for all."