Brother and sister in 80s die as blaze engulfs home
AN elderly brother and sister were overcome by smoke as they slept after an early morning blaze ripped through their bungalow.
Michael 'Colly' Coleman (88) and his sister Nora (85) died after a fire engulfed their home at Rathcourcy, East Ferry, outside Midleton in east Cork, shortly before 5am yesterday.
Despite efforts by firefighters to get the pensioners out of the blazing house, both were later pronounced dead at the scene.
The alarm was raised shortly after 5am when neighbours realised the house was on fire.
One neighbour heard what was described as "a crackling sound" and went to investigate amid fears that the Colemans could be suffering a break-in.
Neighbours were beaten back by smoke and flames as they tried to gain entry to the house.
Fire tenders from Cobh and Midleton fought to bring the blaze under control.
And when fire personnel were finally able to gain entry to the house, both occupants were discovered in their bedrooms.
It was suspected that the dead siblings were overcome by smoke and fumes in their sleep. Both bodies were later removed to Cork University Hospital for full post-mortem examinations.
Toxicology tests will also be conducted to determine the cause of death.
While it will take several days to confirm the precise cause of the blaze, the fire is being treated as accidental.
Locals expressed shock at the tragedy and described the pensioners as lovely people who were absolutely inseparable.
"They lived for each other -- they were very quiet and were great neighbours to everyone," one man explained.