herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Hero father who died in fire with his son 'saved four others'

Sunny Harte
Sunny Harte
Sean Harte

A father who died in a house fire at the weekend is a hero who saved others from the blaze.

Sunny Harte (64) did everything he could to alert his neighbours before running back to his son's flat, where both of them were overcome by toxic smoke.

Mr Harte and his son Sean (34) died in the blaze in Sean's rented flat above a shop on Market Street, Sligo town, in the early hours of Saturday.

The alarm was raised around 5am when neighbours smelled smoke and alerted the emergency services.

When fire crews got to them, they found Sunny hugging his son, but both had succumbed to the smoke.

Grieving

Sean's grieving brother Michael said the reason Sunny was found hugging his son was because he had raised the alarm to get others out of the building before going back to get Sean.

"Dad saved four other people by knocking on their apartments before returning to Sean," he told the Herald.

It was Sean's intention to move out of the flat, and his father had been helping him move his belongings to his own house in the town.

"Sunny and Sean were more like brothers than father and son," said Michael.

"Sunny sometimes stayed with Sean. He had been in the flat that night while Sean was out, and the fire broke out around 5am."

Post-mortem examinations have been carried out on the bodies of the popular pair in Sligo Regional Hospital and the results will be forwarded to the county coroner.

However, it is believed they died from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Michael said that, although their deaths were tragic, he and the family took some comfort in the fact that they were together.

Peas

"One would be heartbroken without the other. They did a lot together. Someone described them as peas in a pod, and that's a good description," he said.

While the cause of the fire is being investigated, it is believed to have started accidentally.

The funerals of both Sunny and Sean are due to take place at Sligo Cathedral this morning.

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