AN elderly woman was killed and her husband narrowly escaped with his life following a fire at their home yesterday.
The blaze broke out at the home of Maura and Phil McAuley, in Cartrontroy Heights, Athlone, Co Westmeath, after 5am.
Mrs McAuley, who was in her 80s and housebound, died in the fire. Her husband Phil, who is also in his 80s, was recovering at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, last night where he was being treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.
Garda technical experts conducted a thorough examination of the scene and are not treating the fire as suspicious.
It is understood Mr McAuley had run his own electrical business in Co Kildare before retiring to Athlone. He spent his time looking after his wife.
The couple's two children were regular visitors.
Another woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "She's been housebound for a while now and I think the public health nurse would have been in, there was always somebody coming and going."
The couple's next-door neighbour, Vilma Lizaityte, didn't notice anything unusual when she returned home from her shift in a fast-food restaurant just before 4am.
But some time later she became aware of a smell. "I just smelled the smell of matches. Then I heard breaking glass."
She was shocked to discover the flames coming from the rear window of the neighbouring house.