Ballymena fire: Child dies in horrific house fire in Northern Ireland | World | News
The house fire was reported just before 6pm on Wednesday in Staffa Drive, Ballykeel. The blaze tragically killed a 12-year-old girl, and has left the local community in shock. Group Commander Declan Rogers, of the Northern Ireland Fire Service, said the alarm over the house fire was raised with three fire appliances attending. It followed the murder of a 33-year-old man in Ballymena just hours before.
Police confirmed the girl had died during the blaze after emergency services were scrambled to the scene.
Chief Inspector William Calderwood said: “Police received a report of the fire at around 5:50pm. Tragically, the girl died at the scene.
“A man who was in the house was taken to hospital for treatment.
“The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and will be subject to investigation, in liaison with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
“There are no further details at this time.”
One man was taken to Antrim Area Hospital after being injured in the house fire, according to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
Local Councillor Matthew Armstrong gave his “deepest sympathies” to the victim’s family after the blaze.
Speaking to Belfast Live, he said: “It is an unspeakable and unimaginable tragic event and one in an area that has sadly been no stranger to tragedies in last short period of time.
“Sometimes in all honesty there are no words to express or even to imagine what the family are going through at the minute. I am truly devastated and heartbroken for them all.’”
More reaction came in from the local community, with Reverend Martin McNeely from Ballykeel Presbyterian Church calling the death “tragic”.
He added to the BBC: “People find it really hard to find the vocabulary to describe the depth of sorrow.
“This is a community which has experienced a tragic murder this morning and now the tragic death of a much loved 12-year-old girl this evening.”
DUP Alderman Audrey Wales added to the Belfast Telegraph: “This community really must be in such shock, this is two disastrous pieces of news within 24 hours.
“My heart, sympathies and prayers go out to the child involved and I hope that the community can be assured that they will get all the help that they need from the local council.”
The tragedy followed a suspected murder of a 33-year-old man also in Ballymena.
His body was discovered at a flat in Crebilly Drive, also on Wednesday, after what police described as a “vicious, sustained and violent beating”.
Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said his thought are with the victims “family and his fiancee at this very sad and difficult time”.
“I am appealing to anyone who has information that could assist with the investigation to contact us.”
A murder investigation has been launched into the Crebilly Drive death.
Two days ago, a community centre in Ballymena was set ablaze in a “disgraceful” arson attack.
TUV councillor Stewart McDonald said: “The police need to take robust action against vandalism such as this nit there is also a onus on parents to be sure they know where their children are and what they are at in the evening.
“This property is un-utilised by people right across the generations in our area. Very young children go to nursery there.
“Young people and the young at heart use the facilities for changing after football. The elderly attend variety nights in the building.”