Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) is appealing for people to be vigilant about safety following the deaths of three men, including one at Toome, in house fires.
All the men were over 50 and lived alone and died in separate fires last month.
The risk of accidental house fires increases in winter as extra fire hazards are introduced into the home. In the last two years, eight of the 13 accidental house fire deaths (62pc) occurred during the winter months.
Firefighters responded to 638 accidental house fires representing 37pc of all accidental house fires attended over the two years.
NIFRS is appealing for people to be vigilant about fire safety at this time of year and to look out for older family and friends – in particular those living alone in our community.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Prevention & Protection explains: “The winter period, coupled with the festivities, is traditionally a high- risk time of year for accidental house fires.
“We see the number of fires in the home increase due to extra fire hazards such as candles, fairy lights, portable heaters, overloaded sockets and people using fires that have not been lit for some time.
“In the last 5 weeks (1 November – 6 December) Firefighters have attended 71 accidental house fires across Northern Ireland. Only last week in Larne,Firefighters were called to an accidental fire in the living room of a home caused by Christmas decorations being placed in close proximity to a gas fire.
“Tragically across one week in November, three people sadly lost their lives in separate house fires in Omagh, Belfast and Toome.
“Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with the three families and local communities suffering the devastating impact of these fires.
“Each of the people who died were over 50 and living alone and we continue to be particularly concerned about the fire safety of people living alone at this time of year. The statistics show that these people are more vulnerable to a fire in their home.
“Our Firefighters continue to be out on the ground engaging with at-risk people and through our partnerships, with other voluntary and statutory organisations, we continue to make huge strides in reaching those people who need our help most.”