Two families had a lucky escape when their neighbouring homes were badly damaged by fire in a Carrick-on-Suir housing estate last Thursday night.
Paula O’Dwyer and her two children and her next door neighbours Rachel and Lee Hynes with their four children managed to flee the fire at their homes at No. 9 and 10 Oakdrive, Greenhill Village before it fully engulfed their semi-detached homes.
The fire was discovered around 10.30pm on Thursday and three firebrigade units from Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel Fire Station along with an ambulance were at the scene within a very short time.
Paula O’Dwyer recalled that she was watching television around this time when she heard crackling noise in the walls and then smoke started coming out the fire place.
Rachel Hynes recounted that they first noticed something was wrong when they noticed smoke in the front room of their house Her husband Lee went up to the loft to investigate where the smoke was coming from and found the attic was ablaze.
She got her daugther Alanagh, aged 7, and four year-old son, Michael, who has autism, out of the house straight away as Rachel and Lee did the same with their children Harry, aged 12, Cian, aged 11, Olly, aged 7, and Becca, aged 6.
Fire fighters worked until 3.30am the following morning to get the fire under control and an investigation is currently underway into its cause.
The top floors of both houses were badly damaged in the blaze as was the kitchen in the Hynes home and there was smoke damage throughout both properties.
The two families feel they had a very lucky escape because the fire had been smouldering in the wall cavities of their houses for several hours before it became visible.
“If it was a few hours later we would have all died in our beds,” said Rachel.
Paula agreed. “The fire chief told us that if the fire took off when we were asleep the circumstances would have been a lot more serious because the house was well on fire before it was discovered,” said Paula.
They have been overwhelmed by the help and support they received from family, neighbours and friends, Carrick-on-Suir Town Council, emergency services, and others in the town since the fire, which destroyed all their clothing and a lot of their furnishing ands personal effects.
Paula, Rachel and Lee said they wished to thank the fire brigade, gardai and ambulance service for their very prompt response to the emergency; Carrick-on-Suir Town Council and local councillors Bobby Fitzgerald and Margaret Croke for their help and support in securing emergency accommodation for them.
They also wished to thank Wurlitzer and The Wardrobe stores in Carrick-on-Suir for supplying them clothing.
“And our neighbours and friends were just brilliant. They provided us with cups of tea, offered us rooms, helped with clothes,” said Paula.
They particularly thanked their neighbour Cora Maher for all her support.
The two families spent the Easter Bank Holiday weekend in emergency B&B accommodation in Carrick-on-Suir and met with Carrick-on-Suir Town Council representatives yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss the issue of accommodation.
Their main concern now is ensuring their children get through the trauma of the fire and the disruption to their lives.
Paula’s son Michael has been staying with her parents as the emergency accommodation is not suitable for his needs. She said he likes being in a routine and has been asking her when they are going home.