Man in his 90s dies in Co Down fire
A 91-year-old man was killed after a fire spread across two other houses before reaching the pensioner's Co Down bungalow.
Firefighters rescued Samuel Carson from the overnight blaze in his Hillsborough Road home in Carryduff but efforts to revive him failed and he was declared dead at the scene.
Fire officers believe Mr Carson had tried to flee but was overcome by fumes at the front of the house.
The blaze was reported just before 1am and it took NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) personnel around four hours to fully extinguish it.
Seven appliances, a command support unit and around 40 firefighters were involved in the operation.
NIFRS Group Commander Kevin O'Neill said the fire started in a garage at the back of a semi-detached house in nearby Thorndale Park.
He said the blaze spread through an open window and set an oil tank alight.
The tank ruptured and burning oil flowed across to the next-door garden in Thorndale Park, where it set fire to that property's oil tank, which was also behind a garage.
Both properties are around six feet above the rear of homes on the Hillsborough Road and the flaming oil flowed down and quickly set fire to the back of the pensioner's bungalow.
"It seems that he himself had made an attempt to escape but had become overcome by smoke and had collapsed," said Mr O'Neill.
The commander said this was the first time he had encountered a fatal oil tank fire.
"There have been quite a number of oil tank fires similar to this over the last five to 10 years but this is the first time it has had such tragic consequences," he said.
"We believe it to be accidental and have no reason to think it is otherwise, but at the moment we are just not at liberty to confirm what the actual cause was."
He said the operation to deal with the blaze was complex.
He said: "Really what we were dealing with was two separate scenes - we were dealing with a garage fire, we were dealing with a running liquid fire and we were dealing with a house fire.
"The crews worked extraordinarily well to deal with it as quickly as we did but everyone is going away deflated by the fact we weren't able to save him."
South Belfast Assembly member Jimmy Spratt said he was saddened by the fatality.
"My thoughts and prayers are with this man's family at this very sad time," he said.
"I also want to praise the fire service for their quick response and for getting the fire under control so quickly. "
There have been six fatalities in house fires in Northern Ireland so far this year. NIFRS has reiterated its general message about the importance of smoke alarms in the wake of the latest tragedy.
Belfast Telegraph Digital