herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Smoke kills mum and son (6) at home

THE deaths of a mum and her son in a fire at their home is being treated as a tragic accident by investigating gardai.

Devoted mum Michelle Gilbert (28) perished alongside her son Jack (6) at their home in Co Meath on Saturday night.

Toxic fumes from a burning sofa in the Navan house are believed to be responsible.

"This was a terrible accident, there was nothing untoward, it is a heart-breaking situation" said one garda.

Ms Gilbert's mother lived nearby in the Canterbrook estate. She was being comforted by friends and neighbours last night.

Preliminary investigations suggest that a small fire began in a sofa in a downstairs sitting room and that the smoke created by it travelled upstairs and into the bedrooms.

Post mortems are expected to confirm they died of smoke inhalation.

It is believed that a neighbour walking by the semi-detached house on Saturday at lunchtime noticed that the downstairs windows were blackened and alerted the authorities. No flames were seen and it appears that all the damage was caused by smoke.

Fire crews from Navan used hatchets to break into the front door.

Family members visited the house while the emergency services were there.

"We thought the fire engines were here for something like a shed fire, we had no idea until later that anyone had died. We are stunned," said Mr Declan Kettle, chairman of the residents association.

Flowers were laid at the front door of the house.

One neighbour said: "We passed the house on the way to and from the shop and we saw nothing. Everybody is shocked.."

The Mayor of Navan Anton McCabe said: "The circumstances of their death are unimaginable, it makes it so very hard to comprehend."

It is believed the houses, which are between eight and 10 years old, each had two smoke alarms fitted.

hnews@herald.ie

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