DISTRAUGHT relatives wailed with grief at the scene of a horrific house fire that claimed the lives of two sisters.
Anngeline Brogan (28) and her younger sister Jody (25) were found in an upstairs bedroom of their home in Ceannan View, Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
The tragic sisters were asleep when the blaze began at 11.10am yesterday. A man in his 20s who was in the house at the time managed to escape and raised the alarm.
The local fire station is less than half a mile away and four units of the Donegal Fire Brigade responded within minutes but it was too late to save the women.
Anngeline was pronounced dead at the scene while her sister died shortly afterwards at Letterkenny General Hospital.
The man who escaped was admitted to hospital for checks but was later released.
Garda forensic investigators spent the day examining the house after firefighters left the area at lunchtime.
They were concentrating their investigation in the living room at the front of the house, where a Christmas tree had been, and the bedroom immediately above where the two women perished.
Investigators said it was too early to say what caused the fire.
The women's distraught uncle, Johnny, arrived with other relatives at the scene later in the morning.
"It's just awful, just awful," he said. "We can't take this in."
A cousin of the sisters arriving at the two-storey semi-detached house a short time later threw herself to the ground in tears. As she screamed, gardai at the scene attempted to comfort her.
"It was a dreadful scene," said local GP and former government minister Jim McDaid who was called to the estate.
"It was horrific to see the result of what was clearly a very intense fire which burned in both the living room and the bedroom above where the girls were. It is a terrible, terrible tragedy for the family."
Parish priest Fr Brian Quinn said the incident was "traumatic".
Neighbours expressed shock at the incident. "We can't believe this has happened here," one said. "They were two lovely girls, full of life."
Local councillor and former Letterkenny mayor Gerry McMonagle, who knows the Brogan family, said the entire town had been left "in grief" after the deaths.
"I've known the family for years and they are devastated. I don't think it has even sunk in yet but it will over the next few days and people will be more distraught," he said.
Friends of the young women -- who were both former pupils at the nearby Errigal College -- left hundreds of messages on their Facebook pages last night.
One read: "Such beautiful girls. Heaven has gained two angels."
Jody had posted a message on her Facebook page just a few days ago to welcome in the new year.
It read: "To all who have lost someone, gained someone and who have yet to become someone, may 2014 be a better year for all."
Gardai appealed for anybody with information to contact Letterkenny Garda Station on 074-9167100.