Belfast Telegraph

Four die in fire horror

Chip pan is blamed for home inferno

By Marie Foy

FOUR members of one family, including a five-year-old girl, died after a blaze destroyed their home near Lisburn early today.

FOUR members of one family, including a five-year-old girl, died after a blaze destroyed their home near Lisburn early today.

The tragedy is being blamed on a chip pan fire.

The victims were named locally as Jean and Maurice McKinstry, daughter Debbie McKinstry and her daughter Christina.

Debbie's brother Maurice, aged 28, has been taken to hospital suffering from burns after trying to rescue the others.

He and a neighbour tried to get into the burning house using a ladder but were beaten back by intense heat and black smoke.

Witnesses heard him shouting at his family to get out.

Mr McKinstry is recovering at Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn with minor injuries. A spokeswoman said he was expected to be discharged later today.

Fire crews arrived at the house at Hilden Court, Lambeg, around 7am after the alarm was raised by neighbours.

Joanne Dake (16) said: 'We were all woken up by the sound of fire engines and ambulances.

'The whole street was out. We could see black smoke pouring from the upstairs windows and along the roof. It was very frightening.

'We could see a ladder between the bedroom windows, but no one came out.'Another woman who worked with Mrs McKinstry, a cleaner at Forthill High Girls' School in Lisburn, said everyone was shocked.

'It is terrible. Jean was a lovely woman and I am so sorry about what has happened.'The area around the end of terrace house remained cordoned off as forensic experts carried out a detailed examination.

Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Tommy Wright said: 'The brigade received numerous calls to report a house fire around 7.10am.

'On arrival three fire crews attending were faced with a very intense, well developed fire on the first and ground floor.

'Immediately we were informed by the neighbours that there were persons trapped inside. Unfortunately, during the course of our fire fighting operation, fire crews discovered four bodies in the front two bedrooms. One member of the family did escape.''Our investigations lead us to believe the fire was caused by a chip pan left unattended with drastic and tragic consequences.

'Whenever the death of a child is involved it makes it all the more tragic.

'The scene inside the house is one of utter devastation and as yet we have been unable to find if smoke alarms were fitted.'Neighbour Jacqueline Kelso said: 'I was woken by the sound of glass breaking. Maurice was outside screaming in hysterics.

'He was saying, 'Mummy, Daddy, don't die'. He was calling them all.

'My husband threw a ladder over the wall but it was too late. The house was engulfed very quickly. There was nothing he could do. We felt so helpless.'Later in the morning friends of the family called at the house to lay bouquets of flowers in their memory.


From Belfast Telegraph