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Woman, 83, killed in Christmas fire was 'great friend'

AN 83-year-old woman who died in a house fire on Christmas Day has been described as a great and ­supportive friend.

FATALITY: Mary MacConnell was pulled from her home in Glasgow by firefighters but was pronounced dead at the scene.
FATALITY: Mary MacConnell was pulled from her home in Glasgow by firefighters but was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mary MacConnell, of Hermiston Road, in Springboig, Glasgow, lost her life on Wednesday evening after a blaze tore through her semi-detached home.

Firefighters found Miss MacConnell, who was in ill-health and had mobility problems, inside the house. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The devout Christian and church volunteer had lived in the same semi-detached house for nearly 30 years and had been a well-known face in the community until her strength began to fail in recent years.

Father John Campbell, formerly Miss MacConnell's priest at St Paul the Apostle Parish Church in Shettleston, had known the spinster for nearly a quarter of a century.

He said: "She was a kind and caring person. Until her own confinement to the house she looked after elderly neighbours. She had great and supportive friends because she was a great and supportive friend to all.

"She had a deep faith and a great ­attitude to life. Even when faced with increasing disability she could always look on the bright side of life and always had time and energy to entertain friends at her home.

"No-one deserves that kind of death but Mary certainly didn't."

Neighbours said Miss MacConnell had continued to receive regular ­visitors over recent years and was a very caring person.

Robert Mitchell, 80, from Southwell, Nottinghamshire, was one of many who would visit her as often as he could. "We had been friends for more than 60 years," he said. "My father died when I was 17-and-a-bit and I was distraught. Mary had lost her boyfriend in national service and was a huge support. We had been friends ever since.

"She was just a doer, she got things done. I can't believe this has happened to her. She didn't really leave her chair, which was just a foot or so from her fire, but she had people coming in and out all the time, including very kind neighbours."

A neighbour said: "Mary did a lot of work in the community and for her church and was always very busy until recently. She kept seeing friends, however, who were always visiting her. She was a very popular lady. What happened on Christmas was very quick and we only realised there was a fire when the fire brigade turned up."

Miss MacConnell worked in her ­family's furniture business, which is now a pub, opposite the Theatre Royal in Glasgow. A sister with whom she shared a home died some years ago, and her only surviving relates are in Canada.

The fire and rescue service was yesterday also investigating another Christmas Day fire, at flat in Allison Street in Govanhill, Glasgow.

The substantial blaze caused the street to be cordoned off on Wednesday, after flames spread from a flat into the roof space of a four-storey tenement. However, there were no injuries as the flat is thought to have been empty.

In a separate incident, three children, including a baby, were taken to hospital as a precaution after a house fire on Christmas Day. The blaze broke out in an upstairs room of a two-storey property in Auchengreoch Avenue in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, at about 8.10pm.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building and put out the flames. The children were taken to Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital for a check-up.

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