Fire safety warning after three deaths in Northern Ireland

Cookstown house fire
Police and the fire service at the scene of a fire in Cookstown this week.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to prioritise safety in their homes following the deaths of three men in accidental house fires in the space of 72 hours this week.

The victims died following fires in Edenvale Crescent, Belfast on Sunday, Benraw Green, Andersonstown, Belfast on Monday and The Pines, Cookstown on Wednesday.

Aidan Jennings, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, NIFRS, said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the loved ones of the three men.

"This is very tragic news and is a cause for concern.

"The three men were aged 58, 79 and 94 respectively which means they are in what we call our 'at-risk' age group.

"The winter period, from December to February, is a high-risk time of year for accidental house fires.

"With the cost of living impact this year we are extra aware that people may be turning to alternative ways to heat and fuel their homes.

"In trying to reduce heating costs, please keep warm safely."

He added: "If you're using portable heaters and electric blankets make sure they're in good working order, and keep heaters away from soft furnishings and Christmas decorations.

"If you're planning to light a fire you haven't used in a while, make sure a suitably trained person services your chimney beforehand to ensure it's not blocked, as blocked chimneys can cause carbon monoxide.

"Make sure not to overload plug sockets - electrical appliances such as electric heaters should be plugged directly into a wall socket as they are high powered.

"Also avoid running white goods and charging devices when you're asleep - you will have less time to react if a fire starts.

"Christmas tree lights and candles are fire hazards so please make sure they are being used safely - turn tree lights off and blow candles out before bed or when you're leaving the house.

"Having working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms is also crucially important."

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