Derrylin: Three dead in house fire - man arrested on suspicion of murder

Emergency services on the scene of the house fire in Co Fermanagh
Emergency services on the scene of the house fire in Co Fermanagh

Detectives investigating the house fire that claimed the lives of three people in Derrylin on Tuesday morning have arrested a 27-year-old man on suspicion of murder.

Police said the suspect was detained at the scene in Co Fermanagh and transferred to hospital for treatment prior to his arrest.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said: “At this time we believe the fire, which has claimed at least three lives, was started deliberately. We are continuing to thoroughly examine the scene along with our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.”

The NIFRS said its officers took an emergency call about the fire at 7.14am.

The blaze occurred at a detached bungalow in Doon Road, not far from the border.

The property had been rented out and the occupants are believed to have been living in it for around a year.

It is understood the people in the property had previously lived in the Republic of Ireland for a time before moving to Fermanagh, and were originally from England.

Sinn Fein councillor Barry Doherty said: “From local knowledge, we believe those who have died were generations of the one family.”

He said a neighbour raised the alarm and had tried to break down the door with a sledgehammer.

Pictures of the scene show the roof of the house had been destroyed by the blaze, leaving a shell of the bungalow, which is surrounded by farm buildings and machinery, in its wake.

Arlene Foster, Democratic Unionist leader and MLA for Fermanagh-South Tyrone, said: “Horrific news coming from Derrylin, County Fermanagh, this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and local community.”

Mrs Foster said those who died were members of the same family.

Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Fein MP for the area, also offered her condolences.

“Devastating news for the family concerned and the Derrylin community. This is absolutely tragic, God help them all,” she said.

She said the neighbours who made rescue attempts had undergone a horrendous ordeal.

Speaking near the scene, she told the Press Association: “I know that some of the neighbours had went to the house here this morning to try and rescue the family inside.

“They (the neighbours) are badly shaken. They weren’t able to get into the house.

“As somebody who goes to a house in good faith to try and help people and people die, that is horrendous. It’s hard to take.”

Asked about their efforts, she said she understood they tried to use a sledgehammer “and tried to break a window to gain access but weren’t able to do that. I don’t want to speculate further.

“This is, I understand, now a crime scene. I just feel that there are people who are going to need support after this tragedy in how they deal with it.”

The fire was described as well-developed when firefighters from Lisnaskea and Enniskillen arrived.

Police tape sealed off the entrance to Molly Road, a rural lane just off the Doon Road scenic route.

It is understood the house affected is the only one in Molly Road, where there are also a number of farm buildings, surrounded by fields.

Fire engines and police cars have been coming and going from the scene for most of the day.

Detective Superintendent Murphy said: “I would renew my appeal to anyone who was in the Molly Road/Doon Road area this morning to contact police. We are particularly keen to speak to anyone who was in, or travelling through Derrylin prior to the time the fire broke out at approximately 7.10am.

“Please call 101, quoting reference number 179 27/02/18.”