Pensioner recounts blaze horror at Fire Safety Week launch
A pensioner who lost her home in a fire has told how she watched it go up in flames in the space of just six seconds.
Gemma McDaid (77) saw the bungalow that had been her home for more than 19 years destroyed after an electric heater caught fire in her bedroom.
She said she feels lucky to be alive following the blaze.
Gemma shared her story as she joined forces with the NI Fire and Rescue Service to launch Fire Safety Week.
Its Stop Fire campaign is asking people to ensure they have smoke alarms, test them, look for obvious risks, and plan an escape route.
In the 12 months to April this year a total of 826 accidental house fires occurred in Northern Ireland. Cooking and electrical appliances are the biggest causes.
Gemma, a mother-of-three who also has nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, said: "I was making some tea and toast before bed and saw smoke and my bedroom was in flames.
"Six seconds - that's all it took for everything to go up in the fire. I ran into kitchen and got two soup bowls and filled them with water and tried to put the fire out.
"I thought my cat was in the bedroom and I was still looking for her when the firemen got there.
"I will always remember the fireman who came there - they saved my life and I want to say thank you to them.
"The smoke was completely black and the whole house was destroyed. All my clothes, everything, it all went up.
"I am just so grateful to be alive."
Her cat was able to escape.