A young mum has told how her screaming children alerted her to a fire in the bedroom of their Lurgan home in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The blaze, which left the family of nine homeless, was discovered at around 12.30am in their Princeton Drive home in Mourneview.
Mum Tanya said as well as herself, her partner and their seven children, her two nephews were also staying over but all escaped with their lives.
She explained: “The boys were playing upstairs and had the charger plugged into the extension lead. The boys said they heard a tazer sound earlier in the evening but it went away.
“But a couple of hours later, when we were all in bed, I heard the boys screaming that there was a fire,” she said.
“My two nephews were in the house as well but all 11 of us got out safely,”
All the family were left with were their pyjamas.
However after an appeal by Tanya’s friend Angie the entire Lurgan community and beyond rallied round to donate clothes and supplies to help the now homeless family.
“I am just glad we all got out OK, everything else can be replaced,” said Tanya who admitted to being completely overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of everyone.
Already almost £5k has been donated on a fundraising page as well as clothes, toiletries and essentials.
The fire happened just before the children were to start back to school and through the generosity of the public, all of them were able to go with their correct school uniform.
A plea went out on Sunday morning from Angie Thornbury asking for help, particularly for school uniforms for the two eldest (a boy aged 14 and girl aged 13) who attend Brownlow Integrated College and the youngest Two boys aged 10 and six and three girls aged eight and five who attend Dickson Primary School. The youngest little girl is just three years old.
And the community stepped up with volunteers manning South Lurgan Community House and sorting the clothes and supplies into boxes for the family.
“I am just overwhelmed at the support of the whole Lurgan community and further afield, I am so grateful to everyone who has helped. I can’t believe all the stuff, all the clothes, even underwear and tooth brushes body wash.
“Got to hand it to this town, when something tragic happens, everyone pulls together,” she said.
Tanya said everyone has been traumatised by the fire and she has been grateful to her mum and her mum’s partner for letting them stay at both their houses since the fire.
“It has split up the family so we need to get a new home,” said Tanya.
Although she has been to the NI Housing Executive, they have no available housing in this area. “I would even take a two or three bedroom house, just to get a roof over the children’s heads,” she said.
The 34-year-old mum said they are now looking at private rental - just for four to six weeks until the NIHE fix the house.
“They said the upstairs is badly damaged and it could take around six weeks to fix it.”
Now her hopes are pinned on getting a private rental in the Lurgan area for the next 6 weeks.
“It has been very traumatic, especially for the children,” she said.
Tanya has been so overwhelmed with the support and the fundraising page which has raised almost £5k for the family.
“I am so grateful but I think half of the money should go to charity, like a burns support charity. There are other people worse off than us.”
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart, who has been helping the family, said: “My thoughts are with this family. I have been speaking with them and they are so thankful that they and their children are still alive. It was a very scary situation.
“I want to thank the emergency services for their swift response and a big thank you to the local community who rallied round.
“I have been liaising with the NIHE,” she said.
If you would like to help here is the link https://www.facebook.com/donate/386682752039783/3232359916781866/