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Warning as fire deaths revealed

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Five people were killed in fires caused by smoking materials during the last year, the Northern Ireland Fire Service has revealed.

Crews were called to 811 accidental house fires - 66 of which were a direct result of the careless disposal of cigarettes, matches or other smoking related materials.

Smoking in the home while drowsy or drunk was also another major factor in fatal house fires.

Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Fires caused by smoking materials can spread very rapidly within moments through a house. I would remind the public to be extra careful if they are smoking or disposing of smoking materials in their home.

"Unfortunately our firefighters experience first-hand the destruction and devastation caused by fires in the home started by smoking materials, and we would appeal to the public to be extra vigilant as it only takes a few moments for a serious fire to develop."

Last October, 42-year-old Catherine Williamson, a mother and grandmother, died in a fire caused by a lit cigarette at her Windmill Heights home in Enniskillen.

"Make sure cigarettes are stubbed out properly before going to bed and be extra careful if you have been drinking alcohol or are feeling drowsy. Never, ever, smoke in bed or leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe unattended as they burn downwards and can easily overturn and set fire to something," added Mr Ashford.

Throughout 2012, a total of 13 people died in house fires, including three pensioners in Armagh, Dromore and Ballymoney in one week. The figure was up slightly from the previous year, when 10 people were killed.

on Sunday night, a 63-year-old man was found dead after a top floor flat in the University Street area of Belfast caught fire.

University Street was closed between the Botanic Avenue and Malone Road for a number of hours. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.