Northern Ireland

Glasker farm fire: Man's body is found after search

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Media captionThe farmhouse at Ballynafern Road, Glasker, was gutted in Saturday's fire

Police searching for an 82-year-old man feared dead in a weekend house fire in County Down have recovered a body.

The fire broke out at a farm at Ballynafern Road at about 07:18 GMT on Saturday and gutted the farmhouse.

Efforts to find the pensioner were put on hold at the weekend amid concerns about the safety of the building.

Part of the first floor of the farmhouse collapsed, making it dangerous to enter the building.

Officers confirmed that they recovered a man's body from the property on Monday afternoon.

Insp Nigel Graham said: "The cause of the fire is still being investigated but is not believed to be suspicious at this time.

"Our thoughts are with the family at this most difficult time."

South Down MLA Jim Wells said the missing man used a wheelchair.

Image copyright RTE
Image caption Part of the first floor of the farmhouse collapsed, making it dangerous to enter the building, which meant the search had to be postponed at the weekend

Six fire appliances were called to the scene on Saturday and four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus went into the house and used thermal imaging equipment to try to find the pensioner.

The fire was put out at about 15:24 GMT on Saturday but the search was postponed for safety reasons.

On Monday, emergency crews resumed the search and the body was found by police officers.

Independent South Down assembly member John McCallister told the BBC the fire had shocked the entire community.

Image caption South Down assembly member John McCallister, who lives close to where the fire broke out, said the community was devastated

"We live just a few fields away and as soon as we got up on Saturday morning, we could see a huge fire over the fields," he said.

"I have known the family all of my life, it is just a tragedy for them."

Mr McCallister said the fire was "ferocious".