Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Mum who rescued seven kids from Lurgan house fire overwhelmed by generosity of community

By Stephanie Bell

A Co Armagh mum who saved her seven children from their blazing home has said she was overwhelmed by the support of her community afterwards.

The 34-year-old revealed just how lucky she and her family were to escape the fire, which broke out in a bedroom shared by her three boys shortly after midnight on Saturday.

Flames quickly engulfed the upstairs of the house in Princeton Drive in Lurgan's Mourneview estate, where all of the children were in bed.

Their mum Tanya, who didn't want to give her surname, said that while she was not insured and has lost everything in the blaze, she was thankful her children were safe.

"I feel absolutely terrible but I'm just so glad we all got out as me and my partner were just about to go to bed when it happened," she said.

"It could have been very different if we had all been sleeping.

"It means an awful lot how much people in the community have supported us. The kindness of people has really touched my heart and I feel so overwhelmed by everything that has been donated and by everybody who has offered help."

The house was devastated by fire in Lurgan on Saturday
The house was devastated by fire in Lurgan on Saturday

Since the fire, the family have been sleeping on the floor of a relative's two bedroom flat.

One of Tanya's biggest challenges was getting her kids back to school for the start of the new term yesterday.

In a huge outpouring of support by the Lurgan community, people donated dozens of boys and girls uniforms yesterday ensuring all of the kids were fully kitted out. Both schools - Brownlow Integrated College and Dickson Primary - also rallied round the family.

Hundreds of people in Lurgan brought bags of clothes, toys and even household items to a drop-off point in Mourneview over the weekend and a Facebook fundraising page for the family has so far raised over £4,000.

Tanya said she couldn't thank people enough and revealed how the horror, which has also left her partner and seven children homeless, unfolded. Her boys are aged 14, 10 and five and the girls are aged 13, seven, four and two.

Tanya said: "The kids all have their games consoles up in their rooms and the boys had plugged a charger for the laptop into an extension lead in their room.

"Apparently it made a funny noise but then that stopped. It was about 12.25am and my partner and I were downstairs and had just decided to go to bed when we heard one of the boys shouting.

"It was my younger son and he came running down the stairs and was just pointing back upstairs. He was in total shock and we could tell by his face that something was wrong.

"Then we saw fire and upstairs was lit up like a lighthouse and there was smoke everywhere.

"It was panic stations then trying to get the kids out. The boys' room is on one side of the house and the girls were sleeping on the other side. The girls would sleep through anything. The boys ran downstairs and outside and by this time their side of the house was full of smoke. We ran and pulled the girls out of bed. They hadn't heard a thing.

"The fire brigade arrived very quickly. Upstairs was completely destroyed while downstairs is ruined with water damage."

After getting her children back to school yesterday, Tanya was trying to sort out a new home for the family.

She added: "So many people donated uniform items that we had everything we needed and more. I am not the type of person who would ask anyone for anything and I don't take off others so I'm really touched by the help.

"Anything we can't use or don't need will be given back to be donated to someone else.

"Also if there is any money left over that we don't use I would like to donate it to a charity for burns victims.

"I didn't have house insurance. The kids have their wee clubs and outings which all costs money and I now regret not getting insurance.

"It is daunting to think we are starting from scratch again and without the community's support I would probably be going round the charity shops looking for stuff for the kids.

"What the community has done for us is absolutely fantastic and I could never thank everyone enough."

Angie Thornbury, a Lurgan mum of two who launched the appeal for the family on Facebook, said she too had been moved by the level of support.

Classroom assistant Angie (40), whose son is friends with one of Tanya's boys, spent her weekend sorting through hundreds of donated bags.

She said: "When I heard about the fire I rang Tanya immediately and she was still in shock. I asked her if she needed any help and she said she would appreciate clothes for the kids as all they had was the pyjamas they were wearing when they left the house. I asked her if she would mind if I put up a post on Facebook asking for clothes.

"I have never done anything like this before and never in a million years could I have imagined the response.

"We got them blow-up beds and sleeping bags and then the donations started to flood in and we spent the weekend going through hundreds of bags of clothes.

"Everyone's hearts have gone out the family and you could see the compassion in the faces of each and every person who came to the community house with donations.

"Thankfully we have plenty of kids' clothes now and we just hope the family get sorted with a new home soon and hopefully the appeal will help them to get back on their feet."

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