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Belfast family 'sickened' after tumble dryer fire destroys home

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The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The tumble dryer

The tumble dryer

Daughter-in-law Andrea Brown

Daughter-in-law Andrea Brown

The house in south Belfast

A Belfast family has said they are "sickened" after a tumble dryer fire destroyed their mother's house, just a few days after she was diagnosed with a tumour.

Sharon Brown (51) and her son Ryan (25) have been left homeless after the fire on Sunwich Street off the Lower Ravenhill Road in south Belfast, which started on Saturday morning.

Daughter-in-law Andrea (26), who lives in Holywood, said Sharon was sitting at home when she saw smoke coming from the four-year-old Beko tumble dryer in her kitchen.

"She shouted to Ryan and when he came down, he opened the tumble dryer and the flames came out. They grabbed the dogs and got out of the house and got out and rang the fire brigade," she said. "They literally had to stand there and watch the flames."

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Daughter-in-law Andrea Brown

Daughter-in-law Andrea Brown

Daughter-in-law Andrea Brown

The fire caused extensive damage inside the house and the family was not able to salvage any possessions, Andrea said.

"My husband rang his Mum and she just told him her house was burning down. When he showed me the photos of the house, it was just sickening - nothing was saved."

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The tumble dryer

The tumble dryer

The tumble dryer

It was a second blow to the family just two days after Sharon was told she has a tumour which is causing the loss of the sight in her right eye.

She was advised to visit Belfast's Royal hospital as soon as possible by her GP but was told due to coronavirus restrictions, it is not possible at the moment to operate.

"My husband George dropped her up last Thursday and she had to go in alone. The hospital said there is a tumour there behind the right eye but because of coronavirus, they wouldn't be able to operate and if the circumstances were different, they would have taken her in last week."

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The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

The house in south Belfast

Both experiences have left Sharon "drained and devastated", Andrea said. "She's staying with her daughter at the moment and we're waiting for the phone call just to see if she can get a house. Her daughter has a young one and Sharon's son Ryan is in the house as well, so it's very cramped because they also have three dogs.

"There's no perfect time for this to happen but with everything that's going on, it affects everyone that little bit more."

Andrea has now launched an appeal to provide Sharon and Ryan with the basic essentials after they were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

"They've been told not to go into the house because of how bad it is. Clothes, bedding, nothing - nothing was saved," she said.

"The fire brigade is hoping that when things calm down, we'll know whether the house can be cleared and repaired - but it might not be for five or six months. "

Andrea said her family has been amazed by the generosity of the public, who have bought items while also donating to a GoFundMe appeal.

"On the Amazon Wishlist with things like toiletries, so many things were gone within a couple of hours. The support and generosity of people has been insane and we really appreciate it."

She said her family is thankful to have Sharon and Ryan still with them after the ordeal but asked that people be mindful of the danger of tumble dryers.

"A lot of people think it's OK because the tumble dryer will only run for an hour and then it will switch off. Sharon didn't have it on that long, there wasn't a big weight in it. Thankfully Ryan was able to get her out.

"Thankfully, they were saved and it could have been much worse, which we are grateful for."

A spokesperson for Beko said: "This is a difficult time for the Brown family and we’re working as quickly as we can to investigate the situation."

Belfast Telegraph