Man (91) killed in Carryduff house blaze
Fire in neighbour's garage spread and then set victim's home alight
An elderly man who died in a house fire on the outskirts of Belfast has been described as "much-loved and respected".
Samuel Carson (91) had been asleep in bed at his Carryduff home just before 1am on Tuesday when the fire spread throughout the house and garage.
Firefighters rescued Mr Carson from the house at Thorndale Park, off the Hillsborough Road, but he could not be revived.
It is understood a house directly behind the property was also damaged when the flames spread to oil tanks.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but police have said they do not believe there were any suspicious circumstances.
Fire Service group commander Kevin O'Neill described the circumstances of the fire as "tragic".
"When we arrived we saw that the fire had spread from the garage to an oil tank, which had ruptured causing the rupture of a second oil tank, and the running heating oil from these two oil tanks ran downhill into another property, and the occupant in that property subsequently died as a a result of the fire," he said.
One neighbour said she heard multiple explosions during the blaze, while another neighbour Samuel McFarlane described how he had called the pensioner's daughter when he saw the flames. "First of all I heard a bang and then I started to investigate," he said. "By that time, the fire service arrived and we could see the flames leaping into the air."
Mr McFarlane saw the firefighters break into the house and try to rescue his neighbour, but said he was already unconscious. "It's very sad," he said.
"It's terrible to think of him going this way when he had lived for so long."
Mr Carson was an animal lover and kept several horses. He had been a long-term member of Carryduff Baptist Church. Pastor Gordon Walker said the pensioner was "very much loved" within the church and well respected among the local community as a whole.
He added: "The family are stunned by this and are trying to come to terms with the reality of what has happened here out of the blue."
South Belfast DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt also expressed his sadness.
"My thoughts and prayers are with this man's family at this very sad time," he said.