Smoke alarm warning issued after man dies in Belfast house blaze
Tributes have been paid to a man in his 50s who died as a result of a house fire in Clarawood Park in east Belfast.
The man - who was believed to have lived alone in the bungalow - has been named locally by residents as Patrick Keith Woods.
The incident is understood to have happened at around 7.30pm on Saturday, with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) confirming that around 20 firefighters from both Knock and Central fire stations were despatched to deal with the blaze.
The man was evacuated from the upstairs bedroom shortly after the arrival of the fire service, with first aid being administered.
However, Mr Woods was pronounced deceased by paramedics at the scene.
According to preliminary investigations by the fire service, it is believed that the fire was accidental and it is suggested that the absence of a working smoke alarm in the property may have been a contributory factor.
DUP councillor Tom Haire was on the scene yesterday morning with shocked residents in the street. He paid tribute to the deceased man and praised the efficient response of the emergency services.
He said: "I was up there and in contact with the resident groups on site.
"It is a tragedy when anyone loses their life as a result of a fire. Both the NIFRS and PSNI were exceptional and very quick to be there at the scene.
"They were told by a couple of the residents that there was somebody in the house and the fire brigade pulled him out.
"I was up at the house, it is all blackened inside. It is sad at any time of the year, but particularly so at Christmas. He lived on his own, apparently.
"Residents are regretful and sorry for the man. Some of them didn't even realise it had happened. They were shocked when they found out this had happened. The residents in the house next door had to be evacuated, but they are back in their house now.
"My message for the public is to be vigilant and make sure that they have a working smoke alarm and that the batteries are regularly changed."
Echoing this call was Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire and Rescue Officer. He made a plea to the public to "consider their own fire safety" in light of this tragedy.
"The thoughts of the NIFRS are with this gentleman and with the community at this time," he said.
"This is the high-risk time for us over Christmas. This is the second fatality we have had in the month of December in an accidental house fire in Northern Ireland.
"Last year we lost four people in house fires over November and December.
"We would remind everybody to consider their own fire safety.
"We believe there was not a working smoke alarm in this property.
"We want to reinforce the message around smoke alarms and the key role they play.
"We're asking everybody to consider this tragedy, think of the pain the family is going through and consider how they can keep themselves and their families safe."