Belfast Telegraph

Sisters left homeless in blaze are grateful for community's help

By Gillian Halliday

Two sisters whose Co Antrim home was destroyed by a massive blaze have spoken of how grateful they are to the Ballyduff community for the support they have received.

Lisa Roe and her 16-year-old sister Sophie have been living with a relative since the fire swept through a row of houses on the Ballyfore Road in Newtownabbey last Saturday evening.

Sentimental possessions, which had belonged to their late mother, were lost in the fire.

Lisa did, however, manage to rescue her pet cat Poppy and dog Dora as the flames spread throughout her home.

A further three homes remain uninhabitable due to smoke and water damage.

Within hours of the incident, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council had opened up a local leisure centre for residents caught up in the fire.

The local community has also rallied to help the siblings, and a JustGiving campaign, set up by their friend Hollie Rice, has exceeded its £1,000 target since it was set up almost a week ago.

Hollie said Lisa and Sophie were coping as best they could given the circumstances.

"Lisa and Sophie are both very overwhelmed and finding the situation very difficult, but they are so grateful and uplifted by the community response to the disaster," she revealed.

"They've received donations to the Justgiving page and offers of help with furniture, clothes and other items from local people and shops.

"They are thankful that there were no deaths and are thinking about the neighbours who are all going through this together."

Meanwhile, local DUP councillor Stephen Ross said the remaining residents - some of whom only learned their homes had been damaged when they returned from holiday - were also trying to rebuild their lives.

"The homes are privately owned and most of the homeowners have been speaking to loss advisers today, and a number of them were looking at private rentals last night," he said.

"One's in a hotel, only for the short term, but most of them are looking for rentals in the surrounding areas.

"It's still raw for them and it will be, particularly each time they come back to see the damage.

"The special, personal effects, the photographs, those are the things that cannot be replaced."

He said that a meeting organised by the council had enabled residents to get advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and the Housing Executive.

"It's really hard to console someone who has lost everything, other than offer them support and help."

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