Northern Ireland

Belvoir house fire: Two people rescued, 24 pigeons killed

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Media captionTwenty-four pigeons housed in a coop were killed in the fire, as Sara Girvin reports

Firefighters have saved an elderly woman and her daughter from a blaze at a house in south Belfast, in which 24 pigeons were killed.

The fire started close to an oil tank and quickly spread to a bungalow at Kirkistown Walk in the Belvoir estate after 05:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The house was destroyed and six other properties were damaged by the blaze.

A pigeon coop in a garden of one of the houses was destroyed, killing all but a few of the birds homed inside.

Police and the fire service are investigating what caused the "severe" fire.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The fire started at an oil tank, destroying one house and damaging six others

Alwyn Crawford, 48, who owned the pigeons, said his son Reece had saved his life after discovering the fire.

He said: "We don't know who done it or what happened, the place was ablaze when we came out.

"We were so worried about the pigeons but it happened so quick and we couldn't get near them.

"I'm a member of a pigeon club and I race them.

"I have a bad back and a bad heart, and they're just so relaxing for you to watch."

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Image caption Alwyn Crawford and his son Reece said they were "heartbroken" after their pigeons were killed

One elderly resident, Michael Hammond, had just replaced his garden after it was ruined in a wheelie bin fire last October.

It was destroyed again in Tuesday's blaze, along with his mobility scooter.

"There's nothing left, I've lost everything," he said.

"But I think we're the lucky ones because those [other] bungalows are unliveable."