herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Widow (86) 'back in her husband's arms' after tragic house fire

Gardai at the scene of the blaze and (inset) the holy water
Gardai at the scene of the blaze and (inset) the holy water

An elderly woman killed tragically in a Dublin house fire will be back in the arms of her husband, a family member has said.

Kathleen Hughes (86) was killed in a blaze believed to have been started in a fireplace at her home in rural north Co Dublin, near Lusk.

Gardai are not treating the incident, which took place at around 6pm on Thursday night, as suspicious.

Ms Hughes lived alone in her small cottage home in Walshestown after her husband, Jem, died a couple of years ago.

Alarm

It is understood that the alarm was raised by a carer, who visited Ms Hughes daily, while her son arrived on the scene as firefighters were battling the blaze.

A garda forensics team was at the scene of the tragedy yesterday morning, examining exactly how the incident occurred.

A number of windows at the cottage were smashed, with the front room of the house gutted by the fire.

However, a bedroom - also at the front of the cottage - was less damaged, with the bed still made and a bottle of holy water standing upright next to the bedroom window.

A single bouquet of flowers, with a note, was left at the front of the house by her nephew, Damien, who said she would be reunited with her husband.

"Rest in peace, Aunt Kate. You're now safe in the arms of Uncle Jem," the note read.

One of Ms Hughes's closest neighbours, John Keely, who lives around 500 metres away, told the Herald that she was a "lovely" and "quiet" lady.

Mr Keely said that Ms Hughes kept herself involved in the community, particularly by attending events held by the Naul Senior Citizens Association.

"I play a bit of music and I used to play for the senior citizens and Kathleen used to be always at those - and her husband, Jem, before he died a few years back - they were a lovely couple," Mr Keely said.

"She was a very nice, friendly person, but very reserved in herself."

Four fire engines and a water tanker from Dublin Fire Brigade were dispatched from Skerries, Balbriggan, Finglas, Swords and Phibsboro to deal with the incident.

Smoke

A senior officer also arrived on the scene to take command of the operation.

"The roof was well alight and the fire had taken hold of the house by the time the first unit arrived from Swords," a Dublin Fire Brigade spokesman said.

"The crew could see the smoke from quite a distance.

"Teams with breathing apparatus entered the cottage and removed the woman but she had died from her injuries in the fire."

The fire crews fought the blaze for an hour-and-a-half to bring it under control, but the house was badly damaged in the inferno.

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