Girl, 12, dies in house fire in second tragedy to rock community in 24 hours

A 12-year-old girl has died in a house fire in Ballykeel, Northern Ireland, in what has been described as an “unspeakable and unimaginable” tragedy.

Police, ambulance and fire service crews were called just before 6pm to the fire at a property in Staffa Drive.

The youngster’s death comes just hours after police announced they had launched a murder investigation in the area after 33-year-old Donald Fraser-Rennie was found dead.

Mr Fraser-Rennie’s body was found in a flat in the nearby Crebilly Road, after what police say was a “vicious, sustained and violent beating”.

Officers say two men, one 29-year-old and one 33-year-old, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

They both remain in police custody at this time.

Local Councillor Matthew Armstrong told Belfast Live: “My deepest sympathies to the family and everyone involved.

“It is an unspeakable and unimaginable tragic event and one in an area that has sadly been no stranger to tragedies in last short period of time.”

Local independent councillor Rodney Quigley says Ballymena is numbed by the death of a young girl in a house fire.

He said: “There’s been a fatality, a 12-year-old girl has sadly lost her life in a house fire.

“This is a horrible day for the Ballykeel area, the news we got this morning was bad enough, I didn’t expect to be standing here this evening.

“There’s a real numbness within this community following the death of this young girl tonight.”

DUP Alderman Audrey Wales told the Belfast Telegraph: “This community really must be in such shock, this is two disastrous pieces of news within 24 hours.”

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said: “We got a call at 5.50pm today from Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) asking us to attend a fire scene in Ballykeel, Ballymena. A person was reported in the building.

“We dispatched two emergency crews to the scene and one ambulance officer. One person was taken from the scene to Antrim Area Hospital for treatment.”