House blaze claims life of gentle antiques dealer
FIRE THAT CONSUMED HISTORIAN'S HOUSE 'NOT SUSPICIOUS'
GARDAI say they are not treating as suspicious a blaze that claimed the life of an elderly man in Rathcormac last Sunday evening.
Timothy Arnold (74) died in the fire that engulfed his home on the Main Street of the village directly opposite the local garda station.
Floral tributes were left on the wall of the station on Monday in memory of the pensioner who was described by one local as a "pure gentleman who was quiet and reserved".
Mr Arnold was a wellknown collector of antiquities and widely regarded as an expert in his field. It is understood that he had recently purchased the former Protestant church in the village and had intended to convert it into a community arts centre.
Billy Bane, station officer with the Fermoy fire service, told The Corkman that emergency services were alerted to the fire at approximately 7.40pm on Sunday evening.
Two units from Fermoy and two from Mitchelstown rushed to the scene where they were joined by gardai from Fermoy who closed off a large section of the Main Street.
Mr Bane said that fire-fighters battled for more than two hours to get the blaze under control and ensure that it did not spread to neighbouring houses.
"When we arrived at the scene the house was well ablaze. The whole of the inside of the house was destroyed and the inside of the house had collapsed in on itself making it very dangerous for us to tackle," said Mr Bane.
"There were a lot of items in the house and in the adjoining building, which was owned by the same man. Unfortunately we had to remove and destroy the contents of the second house as there were concerns they might catch fire as well," he added.
Mr Arnold's remains were removed from the destroyed building early on Monday morning and taken to the Cork University Hospital for a post mortem examination
The section of the Main Street remained closed to traffic until Monday evening as emergency services made the building safe and gardai undertook an investigation into the cause of the fire, which is believed to have started in an upstairs bedroom.
A garda spokesman told The Corkman that it was too early to determine the exact cause of the fire.
"We can not say at this stage how the fire started, but we are not treating the incident as suspicious," he said.
Local parish priest Fr Neilus O'Donnell and other parishioners held a short prayer vigil outside Mr Arnold's house in the early hours of Monday morning.
"The whole community has been deeply shocked at what has happened. There is a heavy air of gloom around the village as people try to come to terms with this terrible tragedy," said Fr O'Donnell.
He said Mr Arnold, a noted local historian, had lived in the locality all of his life.
"He was a very independent man who kept himself to himself. He was very well-liked and respected member of the local community and I know I speak for the entire community in extending our deepest sympathies to his family," said Fr O'Donnell.