Mother died in fire hours after daughter's good night message
Published: 18 Oct 2012 13:000 comments
Minutes later she was to come to terms with the news that Catherine had died as a result of the fire which started and remained smouldering in the first floor bedroom last Friday night.
Catherine went to bed at 8pm, calling her daughter Catriona to say she would see her the next day. But by 10pm, the fire in the back bedroom Catherine used had been spotted and the emergency services were on the scene. The emergency response from the police, ambulance and fire service was extremely fast and two firefighters brought Catherine from the house. She was conveyed by ambulance to the South West Acute Hospital where she died. The family believes that she died from smoke inhalation.
Her sister Diane, who arrived on the scene of the fire just as Catherine had been carried into the ambulance, described her this week as a loving mother, grandmother, sister and daughter.
Describing the events of Friday night, she said: "Catriona talked to her on the phone on Friday night and said she was going to bed and that she would see her on Saturday. It was a neighbour who lives in Catherine's row who sent a message on Facebook to Catriona as she did not have her phone number to go down as there was a fire in Catherine's. Catriona phoned my sister to go down to mind her little girl and my sister ran down to bring the wee girl to her house and Catriona went down. My next door neighbour's sister lives in the bottom on the park. She heard it and phoned up and told me to make my way down as well. When I got down she was in the ambulance and being taken off," said Diane.
Two smoke alarms had been repaired in the house only last week.
"She had just redecorated her whole house -- new carpet and floors. My father had painted it for her and gave her a wee hand. She had only got it done two months ago and she did not even get to enjoy the comfort of it. The smoke alarms were working. She had everything in order," said Diane.
Jim McClintock, of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), was the Officer in Charge on Friday evening. Fire officers received the call at 9.55pm on Friday night. "A young man the area had raised the alarm, having seen smoke coming out of the first floor of the end-of-terrace two storey house which is located in a quiet cul de sac in Windmill Heights. It is very quiet with no passers-by or traffic," he said.
When the NIFRS arrived, the PSNI and Ambulance Service were already there. Both the police and ambulance staff had tried to gain access but were unable to due to the heavy smoke. "There was no big fire. It wasn't of that nature. It was a smouldering fire," he said.
Two firefighters with breathing apparatus entered the house. "Very quickly they recovered the female from the rear bedroom on the first floor. She was brought straight away to hospital by ambulance with a police escort. Her condition was not good," said Mr. McClintock. Little more than half an hour later, the news came through that Catherine had died.
Forensic investigations took place at the scene.
"The lady was exposed to smoke and inhaled it in over that period of time," he added.
Catherine was 42, and was mother to 23-year-old Catriona and grandmother to seven year old Lakisha, who attends Holy Trinity Primary School.
She was the eldest sister to her three siblings -- Diane Williamson, Winnie Williamson and Anthony Williamson and daughter of Gabriel and Kathleen Williamson. She is also survived by her nephew and nieces Kevin, Naomi, Kyra and Lashana.
The family is very well known in the Windmill Heights area. "The neighbours have been very good and a great support," said Diane.
"She will be very much missed. She was quiet and kept to herself. She would have done anything she could for the family and helped out in any way. My mum doesn't be well and has a bad chest and she was always there for her to help," Diane said. "She was very much a loving grandmother and mother and sister. She would have had a great deal of time for my brother and was very good to him. She was good to us all in her own way," she added.
The shock of her sister's unexpected death has meant it is taking time for the news to sink in. "We haven't had much time to grieve until it is all over," said Diane.
A former pupil of St. Fanchea's College, Catherine had worked for Elite Electronics and had also worked in the kitchen at the Ashberry Hotel and at Barnabas Trust. "She would have helped out with her wee grandchild and took her to the park and took her wee places".
The funeral mass was celebrated on Monday at St. Michael's Church by Father Donnelly. Her granddaughter Lakisha, her niece and goddaughter Lashana and niece brought gifts to the altar. Burial took place at Cross Cemetery.
A former fellow St. Fanchea's pupil, Councillor Bernice Swift said: "I was deeply shocked to hear about the very tragic death of Catherine and I express my sincere condolences to her sister Winnie and all the extended family. Actually knowing and remembering Catherine from our school days as a very quiet individual makes her death all the more saddening. May she rest in peace."
Funeral arrangements were looked after by John McKeegan, Mill Street, Enniskillen.
Commentscomments powered by Disqus
Get more stories from our Roundup section
19 Apr 2014 17:10
Ballinamallard took another step closer to safety as they claimed a share of the spoils at home to Ballymena today.
19 Apr 2014 15:00 • Meadhbh Monahan
Founder of Frack Free Sussex and Britain and Ireland Frack Free, Vanessa Vine visited Enniskillen last Saturday to discuss the local anti-fracking campaign.
19 Apr 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department
A boxing champion shied away from a fight with a man over twice his age only to become embroiled in a road rage incident.
19 Apr 2014 11:00 • Editorial Department
The forty-eight former Fivemiletown milk suppliers have been assured that Fivemiletown and Brookeborough Co-operative and Agricultural Dairy Society (the Society) is debt free and that they will “continue to be paid”.
19 Apr 2014 09:00 • Rodney Edwards
ULSTER Unionist MLA Tom Elliott has joined his party colleagues in voting against the Local Government Bill, the legislation that sets out the powers of the new Super Councils. Mr. Elliott spoke of his concern around community planning ahead of the amalgamation which will see 26 Councils merge into 11, including the amalgamation of Fermanagh District Council and Omagh District Council
19 Apr 2014 08:30
Police can confirm that a male motorcyclist has died following a two vehicle road traffic collision on the Belfast Road in Fivemiletown last night, Friday 18 April.
18 Apr 2014 22:00 • Rodney Edwards
A MAJOR survey into the Orange Order in Fermanagh has found that 92.8 per cent of people who took part in the project believe Catholics are “suspicious” of the organisation.
18 Apr 2014 19:00
By 5pm on Saturday April 26 all the decisions will be made in the Danske Bank Premiership and Championship One. The destination of the title will be decided and who is going down or which teams are facing a play off will be known.
18 Apr 2014 17:00 • Rodney Edwards
ENTERPRISE Minister Arlene Foster says she cannot support the view of local political representatives, including her DUP colleague Maurice Morrow, that the Aventas Group in Derrylin must remain exclusively locally owned.
18 Apr 2014 15:00 • Editorial Department
Charlie Lawson @charlie_lawson1 I’m reliably informed that my alter ego and constant companion is to return, so he is. Must contact The Home Secretary to confirm.
18 Apr 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department
“I am not powerless, I will fight this,” declares Stormont Minister Arlene Foster as she reflects on the fall-out over the proposal by the Western Education and Library Board to amalgamate Portora Royal School with Collegiate Grammar School.
18 Apr 2014 11:00 • Lily Dane
This image “Miss Derryclavin” Selected was featured in The Impartial Reporter on April 16, 1964.
18 Apr 2014 08:30
MOURNERS at the funeral of Brookeborough man Kenneth Andrews who died unexpectedly last week were told that the 47-year-old had been fighting a private battle with depression.
17 Apr 2014 18:06 • Rodney Edwards
A would-be politician seeking a seat in the new Fermanagh and Omagh Council for the Ulster Unionist Party has defended himself for a second time following comments he made on Facebook.
17 Apr 2014 17:01
Let me get the amateur sociology out of the way first: ‘Out-group homogeneity’. It describes a bias that any group of people are prone to have.
17 Apr 2014 16:30
The proposed Development Proposal to close both Enniskillen Collegiate School and Portora Royal School and open a new school on a split site, will go before the members of the Western Education and Library Board on May 8 for approval.
17 Apr 2014 15:57
THE Collegiate Grammar School’s consultation meeting on its proposed amalgamation with Portora Royal exposed the Western Education Library Board’s (WELB) “weak process and weak argument”, according to principal, Elizabeth Armstrong.
17 Apr 2014 15:14
PARENTS of Collegiate Grammar School have accused Western Education Library Board (WELB) officials of hiding their personal vested interest in a proposal that would see the school merge with Portora Royal next year.
17 Apr 2014 14:29 • Meadhbh Monahan
HOMEOWNERS in Enniskillen are “disgusted” with workmen who took hundreds of pounds for cleaning their driveways, but never finished the job.