Couple and their granddaughter ‘very fortunate’ to escape house blaze

A Coleraine couple and their granddaughter were lucky to escape a serious fire at their house in the early hours of this morning.

Sunday, 20th January 2019, 11:40 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:01 pm
Fire crews at the scene of a house fire in Long Commons, Coleraine early this morning. Pic by Matt Steele, McAuley Multimedia

According to a senior Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service officer, there were no working smoke alarms in the property, and the family were “very fortunate” that a neighbour noticed the fire and was able to wake them and alert them to the fire.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at the end terrace house in the Long Commons area at around 5:15am.

Two fire crews from Coleraine and one from Portrush were tasked to the incident.

Firefighters tackling a house fire in Long Commons, Coleraine early this morning. Pic by Matt Steele, McAuley Multimedia

“We were there within minutes as it is only round the corner, but the family – a couple aged in their 50s and their 15-year-old granddaughter – were already out of the house when we arrived. Neighbours who spotted the fire had raised the alarm by banging on the door,” NIFRS Assistant Group Commander John Bacon, who was the officer in charge of the incident, told the News Letter.

He said firefighters quickly evacuated neighbouring properties that were “at risk from smoke travel and fire travel” and worked to extinguish “a well developed fire” at the rear of the ground floor of the property.

“There were no working smoke alarms in the property, so this family were very fortunate to get out. One thing that helped save them was that they had closed the internal doors as part of their bedtime routine and that had stopped the passage of smoke through the property long enough for them to make their escape.

“They are very fortunate that their neighbour was up at that time and noticed the fire and raised the alarm.”

AGC Bacon, who is also District Commander for Coleraine, said the cause of the fire is still being investigated.

“We are working with the PSNI and have had an initial look, but it is too early to say exactly what happened.

“A fire investigation officer has been tasked to investigate the cause of the fire,” he added.

Police and Ambulance Service personnel were also tasked to the incident, which was dealt with shortly before 6:15am.

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesperson said a crew was called out shortly after 5:30am.

She said no one was taken to hospital, but it is understood three people were treated at the scene for the effects of smoke inhalation.

The road was closed to traffic while emergency services crews attended the scene, but reopened a short time later.