The family of an Armagh man who died in a blaze at his city home this weekend say they have been left “heartbroken” by his loss.
But they have been overwhelmed by the support of friends, neighbours and the local community in their time of grief.
Fifty-five-year-old Barry Toal died after the house was destroyed in a fire on Friday evening.
Neighbours raised the alarm and rescued two other people from the property at Culdee Street. Both were treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.
But tragically Mr Toal, who had been in an upstairs room, died.
Five fire crews made up of 30 firefighters rushed to the scene shortly before 9pm and have been praised for preventing the blaze spreading to neighbouring properties.
Mr Toal’s family have been moved by the community reaction, the response of the fire service as well as paramedics and would like to thank everyone for what they have done.
His daughter Rebecca and brother Alfie – on behalf of the Toal and O’Neill families – spoke to Armagh I after the tragedy.
They said: “We really want to thank the PSNI, the paramedics, the Fire Service and the community for their bravery, and for everyone who did everything possible, especially those men who went above and beyond the call of duty, risking their own lives.”
When news of the tragedy broke, offers of help and support from local people, friends of the family and total strangers, began to filter through. A JustGiving page has been set up.
People have wanted to help and the family want everyone to know how much that has meant.
They added: “It was a long night and day. We never got him out of the house until 5pm on Saturday evening.
“It was a long wait at the back of the house as we did not want to leave him on his own. He got a blessing before they took him.
“We are all heartbroken.”
The family are now waiting for Mr Toal’s remains to be released and for him to be brought home from Belfast, before planning for his funeral.
They are taking comfort from friends and from one another.
“We just want to say thank-you to everyone,” the family said. “We have been getting so many callers and want to let them all know that we appreciate everything that is being done.”