Thursday 23 October 2014

Teenager rescued brother (3) from house fire which claimed aunt's life

Paddy Clancy

Published 28/03/2014 | 23:00

Gardaí and emergency services at the scene at White Strand View, Aylesbury Park in Sligo, where a 34-year-old woman died yesterday. Photo: James Connolly

A three-year-old boy was heroically rescued by his teenage brother in a fire in their home which claimed their aunt's life.

Brave neighbours desperately tried to rescue the 34-year-old aunt, Caitriona Feely, in her upstairs bedroom but they were beaten back by roaring flames and smoke.

The tragedy happened on Friday night at a house at White Strand View, Aylesbury Park, off the Strandhill Road about two kilometres from Sligo town.

Caitriona, from the Lavagh area near Tubbercurry in south Co.Sligo, was staying with her sister Caroline Feely while they were attending their ill father in Sligo General Hospital.

Caitriona was with her nephews Ryan, 18, and three-year-old Haiden, Caroline's children, when the blaze started at 9.20 on Friday night.

Caroline was visiting her ill father in Sligo General Hospital and her partner Gerry Fahy was away from the house having his car fixed.

Neighbours were alerted by a fire sensor in the house and when they dashed out to the street they saw smoke and flames in an upstairs room.

Schoolteacher Jim Gavin, who lives across the street, said he and the next-door neighbour dashed into the house where they met Ryan at the bottom of the stairs, He had already taken his three-year-old brother to safety out of the house and he raised the alert that his aunt was upstairs.

Mr Gavin said: "The next-door neighbour whom I know as Noel ran up and I was immediately behind. Noel kicked open the door of the bedroom and we reached in. Then it was like the whole place blew up in flames and smoke.

"We had to come back out. We realised it was obvious the woman was gone."

The men were forced back down. When they exited the house Jim's wife Brenda was holding little Haiden in her arms.

Sligo acting fire chief Gerry O'Malley said the fatality was found lying at the top of the stairs with her feet still in her bedroom doorway.

He said: "It was clear there were very courageous rescue attempts by the neighbours who were beaten back by fire."

Ryan and Haiden were unhurt in the fire.

Mr O'Malley said the blazed was contained within the upstairs part of the house and was brought under control in 40 minutes.

Fine Gael councillor David Cawley, who lives about a half-kilometre away, said: "The community is devastated."

Investigating gardai preserved the scene for a technical examination. They said a post mortem examination of Ms Feely's body was due later yesterday at Sligo Regional Hospital.

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