Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Derrylin's 'doomed' rescue attempts

News Letter Image copyright NEWS LETTER

A fire which tore through a family home, killing three, is on all the front pages on Wednesday morning.

"I couldn't save them," is the devastating headline in the Belfast Telegraph, which leads its coverage of the tragedy with the story of the landlord who tried to sledgehammer his way into the property and save the family inside.

Tommy Fee owns the bungalow that police believe was set alight in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The paper says he has been left traumatised by the deaths at his property on Molly Road, Derrylin.

"I was just trying to save lives, and it's heartbreaking that I couldn't," he said.

'So harrowing'

Mr Fee said the scene of the burning building will stay with him for the rest of his days.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I was beaten back by big balls of black smoke, the fire was raging, it was so harrowing."

He said he received a phone call at about 07:00 GMT on Tuesday from a woman who told him that the house was on fire and he went straight down.

But when Mr Fee arrived, it was already too late.

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Image caption A 27-year-old man was arrested at the scene and is being questioned by police

"All the bedrooms were at the back of the house, so I broke a side door and a back window with a sledgehammer, but we couldn't see anybody," he said.

"We couldn't hear anybody calling either and we kept trying to see if there was any movement, anybody coming out on their hands and knees, but nothing.

"I did feel helpless when I couldn't get in to save them."

'Three generations'

Mr Fee said the house had burned down and the roof had collapsed.

"Family wiped out," is the headline in the Daily Mirror.

It reports that a baby girl is among one of three generations feared dead in the Derrylin fire.

The baby is reportedly still missing after the blaze on Tuesday morning.

A 27-year-old man was arrested at the scene and is being questioned by police.

The News Letter also focuses on "doomed" attempts by rescuers to save those inside the house.

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Image caption Sinn Féin councillor Barry Doherty told the paper: "From local knowledge, we believe those who have died were generations of one family"

It says that the occupants are believed to have lived in the rented property for about 18 months.

Sinn Féin councillor Barry Doherty told the paper: "From local knowledge, we believe those who have died were generations of one family."

DUP leader Arlene Foster's statement is also carried by the News Letter.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said the fire was "devastating for the local community".

'Tragedy'

"It is important that the cause of the fire is established, but my thoughts and prayers are with all those in the local area, friends and the wider family circle as they come to terms with this terrible tragedy."

The Irish News also has the story on its front page, reporting "murder probe arrest after house fire kills three".

It also reports that a child is believed to have been one of those killed in the fire.

The Irish News breaks away from the main news story into an editorial on the fire later in its pages.

It says the suspicion that the fire was started deliberately will "inevitably revive memories of the awful events at Lammy Crescent in Omagh ten years ago, when Arthur McElhill murdered his partner and five children".

The 27-year-old arrested at the scene of the fire remains in custody on Thursday morning.

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