Funeral held of Toome man who died in house blaze

THE funeral has been held of a Toome man described as a “true gentleman” after he tragically passed away following a fire at his farmhouse.

Kevin Laverty died after a severe blaze swept through his property on the Carlane Road just outside the village on Wednesday last.

Five firefighters were also injured during the operation to rescue the 58-year-old, as they battled the flames for over four hours.

Requiem Mass for the 58-year old took place at Sacred Heart Church, Cargin on Sunday, before he was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

The chairman of local kitchen distributor Uform – who Mr Laverty had worked for as a truck driver for over two decades – paid a glowing tribute to their former employee.

“Kevin was a loyal and very committed-driver covering Leinster and Munster for our company for the last 21 years, but he was more than that,” said Eamon Donnelly.

“He lived for the company and was a true gentleman of the highest order, a consummate professional at what he done.

“No task was ever too small or large as the answer was always yes.”

Mr Donnelly said Mr Laverty stuck with the company during some difficult times.

“Kevin was always there for us through all ups and downs and was one of those people who always gave his all with a smile on his face, without people like him we would not be who we are,” he added.

“He will be very sadly missed by everyone in Uform and all of the customers who he gained the utmost respect from.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his brothers, sister and family circle.”

The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service offered their condolences to the family and friends of Mr Laverty after he passed away, despite the heroic efforts of the firefighters involved.

The fire started around 8pm on Wednesday last, and emergency services, including three fire engines, two rapid response paramedics, two ambulances and Police, were all deployed to the scene.

A Fire Service spokesperson said firefighters encountered a severe fire on the first floor. Wearing breathing apparatus, they entered the property and worked in intense heat and smoke-logged conditions in an attempt to rescue the man.

Firefighters carried the man down to the ground floor, where he was treated by medics, but later died from his injuries at Antrim Area Hospital.

“Two fire appliances from Magherafelt Fire Station and one fire appliance from Antrim Fire Station attended the incident,” said a NIFRS spokesperson.

“NIFRS would like to commend the Breathing Apparatus team for their valiant efforts in rescuing the man from the fire.”

Five firefighters were injured while carrying out the rescue. Four sustained minor burns and were treated at the scene by ambulance personnel. One of them required hospital treatment but was later discharged. The fifth firefighter was taken to hospital with a concussion caused by debris falling inside the property. He was kept overnight and has since been discharged.

“The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and will be subject to investigation, in liaison with the PSNI. There was a smoke alarm fitted in the property and part of the investigation will consider if it sounded,” added the spokesperson.

Mr Laverty is survived by siblings Rosemary (O’Kane), Donald, Eamon, Gerard, Terence and predeceased by parents James and Isabel and brother’s John and Brendan.

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