Northern Ireland news

Community shocked as mother-of-three dies in house blaze

Jennifer Dornan was a mother-of-three and has been described as "bubbly and bright"
Andrea McKernon

THE uncle of a young mother-of-three who died in a house fire on the outskirts of west Belfast has said her family is heartbroken at her death.

Jennifer Dornan (30) perished early yesterday in an intense blaze that appeared to have started in the bedroom of her home in the Hazel View area of Lagmore.

Ms Dornan's family and friends expressed their shock and sadness at the death of the single mother, describing her as "bubbly and bright" and "a pillar of the community".

The PSNI confirmed the death, saying it had received a report of a fire at the house shortly before 5am yesterday.

It is believed a passing taxi driver raised the alarm.

Emergency services attended and found a body at the scene. An investigation into the cause of the blaze has now started.

It is the second recent tragedy for the family, from the St James' area of west Belfast, following the death of Ms Dornan's brother six years ago.

The body of Stephen Dornan (23) was found in the bedroom of a flat at Aitnamona Crescent in December 2009.

Ms Dornan's uncle Joe Donnelly said she "lived for her kids" - eight-year-old Martin, five-year-old Jayden and three-year-old Abbey.

"She was bubbly and bright and she always lived life to the full," he said.

"She was a big personality anywhere she went. She was always on the go.

"I only called in to see her a couple of days ago. We are in a state of shock. We are still trying to get over Stephen's death and now this. Her mother and her sister Claire are just devastated."

Mr Donnelly said his niece was "a devoted mother". "She put so much effort into her home and her children," he said.

"She had a big heart."

Mr Donnelly said he believed the fire had started in his niece's bedroom.

"She went out last night for a few drinks with her friends. Thank God the children weren't staying with her or they might have died too.

"She smoked a little, but Jennifer was so house proud she never smoked in the house or in front of the children.

"She did light a lot of candles, but we have no idea how the fire started or how no-one seemed to hear a smoke alarm."

Sinn Féin's Jennifer McCann, an assembly member for the area, visited the scene of the fire on Sunday and said "there is a deep sense of shock in the community".

The death was a tragedy for Ms Dornan's children, she added. "I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the woman who died."

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