Family’s agonising wait for body search after blaze

� Kevin Scott / Presseye - Annaclone farm fire ''Pictured is fire fighters tackling a blaze at a farm house in Annaclone, Co Down where emergency services are now trying to locate the occupant of the home ''Picture: Kevin Scott / Presseye''''Added by AK 04-01-15
� Kevin Scott / Presseye - Annaclone farm fire ''Pictured is fire fighters tackling a blaze at a farm house in Annaclone, Co Down where emergency services are now trying to locate the occupant of the home ''Picture: Kevin Scott / Presseye''''Added by AK 04-01-15

A search for the missing Co Down farmer feared dead after a fire devastated his farmhouse is set to take place today.

Last night 82-year-old father-of-four George Mathers remained unaccounted for after the first floor of the building at Ballynafern Road, Annaclone collapsed in the Saturday morning blaze.

Emergency services have been forced to wait until the relevant structural security checks are carried out so it is safe to go inside and the PSNI have remained at the scene.

It is understood Mr Mathers, who lived alone, had mobility issues and slept on the ground floor.

Independent Unionist MLA John McCallister, who lives “quite literally a couple of fields away” from Mr Mathers’ home, said he had known the family “all my life”.

He said news of the fire was “very distressing and there has been a palpable sense of shock in the area and sadness for the family who have been in this area for generations”.

He said Mr Mathers, who is a “hard-working” farmer, “had been in declining health for the past few years”.

Mr McCallister said he had seen Mr Mathers’ sons since the fire to offer his sympathy and practical help on their farm.