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Thursday 18 January 2018

Dad and son hugging when found dead by firefighters after flat blaze

Sean Harte (34) and his dad Sonny (63)
Sean Harte (34) and his dad Sonny (63)
Sonny Harte
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The father and son found dead in a Sligo flat following a fire over the weekend were found hugging each other by fire crews.

Sonny Harte (63) and his son Sean (34) died when a fire ripped through an apartment building on Market Street on Saturday.

It is understood that Sonny had been helping Sean to move out of the flat just days before the fire.

Sean's brother Michael said they were more like "great brothers than father and son".

Sean Harte
Sean Harte

"One would be lost without the other," he told the Irish Independent.

"We still don't know what caused the fire. We heard it started in a vacant flat below them but we don't know for sure yet.

"When the fire brigade went in my dad was hugging Sean. It's an awful tragedy because dad had been helping Sean shift his stuff to his house earlier. Sean was going to move out of the flat," he added.

"We're all heartbroken. The town is in shock. Both dad and Sean were very well known in the town."

Sonny Harte
Sonny Harte

Post-mortem examinations have been carried out on the bodies at Sligo Regional Hospital and the results will be forwarded to the county coroner.

However, early indications suggest that they died from the effects of smoke inhalation from the fire that broke out at Sean's flat above a shop on Market Street near the centre of the town.

Locals who smelled smoke raised the alarm and the building was evacuated by gardaí and the fire brigade.

Sonny, who was also known as Christopher, and Sean were rushed to Sligo hospital but pronounced dead a short time later.

Michael has posted a photograph of the two men on his Facebook page as a tribute to them.

Sean had been out socialising earlier in the night, while Sonny had stayed in the flat.

Both men were regulars in their local pub, The Snug, in Sligo town.

"We are all devastated. We would see them in here often, sometimes for a pint or sometimes for a cup of tea. They were well known and loved," said Alan Banks.

"It's a very difficult situation to get your head around. Sonny and Sean had become great friends with everyone in the Snug over the years and it's very hard to believe we won't be filling a pint or boiling the kettle for either of these two great people again. The only comfort anyone can take, it's that they were always like two peas in a pod and thankfully they are both still together."

Gardaí sealed off the scene of the fire for a technical examination, but the cause of the blaze is not believed to be suspicious.

Local councillor Gino O'Boyle said the deaths were a tragedy.

Irish Independent

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