Northern Ireland

Poleglass pensioner 'lucky to be alive' after mobility scooter blaze guts bungalow

The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Jonny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann
The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Jonny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Jonny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann

A disabled pensioner is "lucky to be alive" after an early morning blaze left his west Belfast home gutted.

Jonny McKee (75) was watching television in the bedroom of his Glenbawn Crescent home on Saturday morning when fire took hold in the hallway of his bungalow.

His stepdaughter Aine King has blamed a faulty mobility scooter for the blaze that has left the pensioner homeless.

She said Mr McKee was "engulfed by thick smoke and flames" and was trapped inside his home.

Ms King said neighbours alerted by the smoke and flames smashed a window and dragged the former roofer to safety.

"He was alerted by a noise that he said sounded like a vacuum cleaner and when he opened the door to the hallway he was engulfed by thick smoke and flames," she told The Irish News.

"Thankfully the neighbours saw the fire and after the windows blew out they were able to drag him out – he's lucky to be alive and to be able to tell the tale."

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Ms King described her stepfather, who cared for her late mother up to her sudden death in 2016 and is currently staying in her Lagmore home, as a "gentle giant" and said he had yet to realise the full implications of what could have happened.

"When I arrived at the scene Jonny was outside laughing and joking with everybody – he was totally unfazed by his ordeal," she said.

"But I think he's still in shock and that it hasn't hit him yet."

She said Mr McKee, who daily joins a walking group at Andersonstown Leisure Centre on his mobility scooter, had insisted on enjoying his usual routine on Sunday.

He has been able to source a replacement mobility scooter but must pay £2,500 for it, she said.

"The walking club is important to him socially so he was keen to go and his friends despite the trauma he'd been through," she said.

"But he'll have to declare himself homeless and try and get a new house – it took him years to get his wee bungalow."