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Community in state of 'disbelief' as blaze claims life of local man

A MAN has died following a house fire in County Wicklow.

The blaze broke out at a house in the village of Rathnew, just off the N11, shortly after 7pm and a man, understood to be in his late 50s, was discovered at the scene.

The man's body was removed from the house in an ambulance at 9.20pm last night.

A local Garda source confirmed that the man had died in the fire. The road was closed off for a time but was reopened shortly before 10pm.

The house was sealed off and an examination is expected to commence this morning.

A number of fire units and gardai attended the scene last night as shocked locals gathered after hearing the news.

One described the dead man as a "harmless" and "unassuming" individual.

"This is an awful shock for the area. He really was a lovely man," he said.

County councillor John Snell, who lives in the village and was at the scene last night, said there was "disbelief" in the tight knit community as news spread.

"He lived for his son," Mr Snell said. "It's a terrible tragedy for Rathnew, our prayers are with his family and friends."

The son of the victim is believed to be in his teens.