Lucky escape after house fire

A Portadown grandmother had a lucky escape following an early morning fire at a neighbouring property at Obins Drive at the weekend.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:20 pm

Lyda Lawless, aged 90, had to be carried from her home by her son and neighbours when it was flooded with acrid smoke from the blaze next door - believed to have been started deliberately.

Her daughter Teresa McKeever said her mum had been badly shaken by the ordeal but was otherwise uninjured.

The fire was started in the early hours of Sunday morning and it was neighbours who raised the alarm.

Teresa said: “My mum was a bit shocked but it could have been worse. My brother was there and a neighbour woke him. They carried my mum out and across the road.

“She’s 90 years of age and is not too good on her feet, she hasn’t been really out of the house in four years.”

She added: “I live just up the street and when we saw the blue lights our first though was of mum.

“When mum saw all the smoke she thought it was her house and kept saying ‘My wee house, my wee house’ but we reassured her it was the house next door.”

Teresa said her mum’s house had been heavily smoke damaged but they had been able to return Lyda to her home later on Sunday: “It’s been her home for 56 years and it’s where she feels comfortable.”

A police spokesman said: “Following a fire at a house in the Obins Drive area of Portadown on Sunday 4th April, detectives arrested a 28 year old man. He was subsequently released on police bail pending further enquiries.

“Police are continuing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident and would appeal to anyone with any information to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 296 04/04/21.

“A report can also be made online using the non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/”

Local SDLP Councillor Eamon McNeill said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the lady in her 90s who had to be rescued from her Portadown home in Obins Drive area of Portadown.

“The fire is believed to have been started deliberately next door.

“The woman was carried to safety by neighbours and was looked after in the aftermath. It is understood a man has been arrested in connection with the fire.”

Councillor Paul Duffy said he understood a man had been arrested: “The fire services were called in the early hours to tackle the blaze which was believed to be deliberate.

“An elderly woman had to be carried to a neighbour’s house for safety.

“PSNI are still carrying out their investigation and anyone with any information should contact them.”

Editor’s message

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.