Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Thoughts with relatives of house blaze victims

Editor's Viewpoint

While the facts surrounding the fire which claimed three lives in Co Fermanagh yesterday have yet to be established, some things are already very clear.

This was a human tragedy which cannot fail to shake anyone who reads, listens to or watches reports of this incident. It is also evident that the fire took such a devastating hold that three people inside the building could not escape.

A loss of life on this scale in a single house fire is always shocking, but the suggestion that it may not have been an accidental blaze changes our perception of it.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and police have said they believe the fire was started deliberately.

That is a chilling dimension to the incident and it is clear that a detailed forensic examination of the scene will now have to take place to determined how the blaze began.

The reports of how local people tried to rescue those trapped in the house make for harrowing reading. They took considerable personal risks in trying to break through doors or windows, a reminder of how people demonstrate tremendous courage in order to help others who are in danger.

No doubt this tragedy will play on the minds of the would-be rescuers for a long time to come. They may well need support to help them overcome the trauma.

These reports also remind us of the dangers and horrors that can confront members of the emergency services at any time during the working day.

It was up to them in this case to enter the building once it was declared safe and to remove the remains of those who died. An already grim task was given an added poignancy by the fact that the deceased were believed to be three generations of one family. Any death is to be mourned but the death of a young person in such a manner seems all the sadder.

The deaths will also have an impact on the wider community. Although the family were understood to be relatively new arrivals in the area, they would have been known to locals who will feel an acute sense of loss. The charred skeleton of the bungalow will be a grim reminder of the tragedy that unfolded in their midst on a February night.

Whatever happened that night, or the motivation for it if the police suspicions of foul play are proved true, are for another day. In the meantime we can only think of the relatives somewhere facing the news that loved ones have perished in horrific circumstances.

Belfast Telegraph

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