Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Girl, 12, dies in house fire hours after man brutally murdered in same town

A 12-year-old girl has tragically died in a house fire, hours after the same town was rocked by a murder investigation.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) was called to the house fire in the Ballykeel area of Ballymena, County Antrim at around 5:50pm on Wednesday.

One person was taken to Antrim Area Hospital for treatment following the blaze, The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said.

Details of the case are still emerging, but authorities have confirmed a girl, 12, lost her life in the fire.

It is the second tragedy to hit the Ballykeel community on Wednesday, with police confirming they had launched a murder investigation into the death of Donald Fraser-Rennie, 33, just hours earlier. There is no suggestion the two cases are linked.

PSNI Det Ch Insp John Caldwell said officers believed Mr Rennie was ‘the victim of a vicious, sustained and violent beating which resulted in his death’.

Two men, aged 29 and 33, have been arrested on suspicion of murder. They remain in police custody.

DUP Alderman Audrey Wales said: ‘This community really must be in such shock, this is two disastrous pieces of news within 24 hours.’

Meanwhile, Traditional Unionist Voice assembly member Jim Allister said the estate had been plunged into sorrow.

He said: ‘To now hear of this young girl’s death is devastating. The community rescue efforts were commendable but, alas, to no avail in respect of the child.’

Democratic Unionist Stormont assembly member Mervyn Storey said: ‘This is indeed a tragedy.

‘No one can begin to imagine the grief the family is going through and they will need all the support and comfort the local community and further afield can give.’

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