Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland community rallies round Polish family left homeless by oil tank blaze in Coleraine

By Gareth Fullerton

The people of Coleraine have been praised for going to the aid of a young Polish family left homeless following a house fire.

The family-of-three, including a pregnant mother who is due to give birth next month, were taken to hospital to receive treatment for smoke inhalation after the blaze in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Police received a report at around 4am that an oil tank was on fire at the premises at Ballycastle Road.

The flames then spread to the house, causing substantial damage and forcing the family and those in adjoining properties to flee.

Five fire appliances rushed to the scene, aided by a fire and emergency support unit.

Family friend Angelika Cholewinska has set up a fundraising page for the couple and their young son, who lost many of their belongings in the fire, including clothes and passports, while local residents have been donating bags of clothes.

Ulster Unionist councillor William McCandless praised the community in the Co Londonderry town for reaching out to the Polish family.

"I am delighted to see local residents come together and support this family. I am hoping to speak to some other people in the coming days who can help out," he said.

Mr McCandless continued: "I think it is wonderful to see the community rally around their neighbours. The Polish community contributes so much to our society, so I hope there is nothing sinister behind the fire.

"Sadly, this family is still without a home after this incident, but we will work hard to help them get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

"They are expecting another baby next month, so this is an awful thing to happen to them. But we will help them as much as we can. I would also like to praise the PSNI and NIFRS for their swift actions in ensuring that there were no serious injuries, or deaths. The fire spread to other properties so we are very fortunate that we are not mourning the loss of life here today."

The couple, Marcin and Martyna Obuchowicz, expressed their thanks to the people who donated clothes yesterday.

They told the Causeway Coast Community: "We are really thankful for all the help we have received from the local community. We have received numerous bags of clothes and now need to check the sizes. The clothes that will not be used will be donated to Community Rescue Service Shop in Coleraine.

"We don't have a house at the minute to keep all the stuff we have been offered so we will be in touch with the people ASAP.

"Thank you so much for all the help we have got from the local people. You really have good hearts. Really appreciate it."

A PSNI spokesperson said: "Police in Coleraine are appealing for information following a fire at a property in the Ballycastle Road area in the early hours of Sunday, January 22. A report was received by police at around 4am that an oil tank at a house was on fire.

"The fire then spread to the house causing substantial damage, requiring the occupants and near neighbours to be evacuated.

"The Ballycastle Road was closed for some time whilst emergency services dealt with the incident, but has since re-opened. A man, woman and a small child were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation."

Chief Inspector Mark McClarence added: "The cause of the fire has yet to be established, however, I would appeal to anyone who was in the Ballycastle Road area at around 4am that morning, and who may have information which could assist with police enquiries, to contact officers in Coleraine on 101."

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