‘It almost cost us our lives’: Tumble dryer catches fire overnight and destroys home

A family in Co Meath have lost most of their belongings and been left temporarily homeless following the blaze.
‘It almost cost us our lives’: Tumble dryer catches fire overnight and destroys home

Louise Walsh

A devastated family has warned against using a tumble dryer at night after they narrowly escaped a fire which gutted their home last weekend.

Ciaran and Kym Meagher and their two children have lost most of their belongings and been left temporarily homeless following the blaze.

However they have been overwhelmed by their small community who have rallied to help them.

The couple and their two teenage children had a lucky escape when they were woken by smoke at their home in Longwood, Co Meath in the early hours of last Friday.

"We had some clothes in the tumble dryer when Kym and I decided to go to bed at 1.30am. We don't normally tumble dry clothes at night but we needed these for the next morning," Ciaran said.

"They were almost dry so we set the timer on the dryer for another ten minutes and went to bed.

"We were woken around 4am by the sound of my daughter Shannon screaming that the house was on fire. Luckily she had left her bedroom door open and the smell of smoke woke her up.

"When she saw the smoke, she ran across the landing to our room and woke us up. I could see Kym and Shannon but I couldn't see Josh who was asleep in his room downstairs so I shouted to him to get out.

"We all ran downstairs and I went into the washroom where I saw flames coming out of the tumble dryer but they were spreading too fast to stop.

The gutted interior of the family home

"We ran to the next door neighbours who grabbed two fire extinguishers from his van but by the time we got back, the flames were licking into the hall so I rang 999."

The fire services arrived within 20 minutes and brought the fire under control in a few hours but the semi-detached home was destroyed.

"While we were trying to make sense of it all, people were arriving with socks and coats and everything for us. People we hardly even knew from the village have been so kind and supportive.

"The upstairs, hall and landing and most of the kitchen are all destroyed. There were six coats hanging on the stairs and there was half a coat left after the fire."

Within hours, community spirit had kicked in and dozens of people were in the house cleaning and sweeping up in the aftermath of the fire.

"My boss Cathal O'Shea of the Salmon Leap Pub in Leixlip organised tradesmen who are now giving up their evenings to plaster and plumb and do electric works on the house.

"Over the weekend people were arriving with sandwiches and even the local chipper sent down enough food to feed about 50 people. The local pub and GAA club also couldn't do enough. It really was unbelievable and we can't thank everyone enough.

"A group of lads about 10 years old came up to me with money they had raised from selling lemonade on their estate. As emotional as it was to lose our home, it was equally as emotional to see such an outpouring of kindness from the community.

"The main thing is that we all got out safely but that could've ended so differently.

"People are all talking about putting on washing machines and tumble dryers now at night to save on energy and costs. We didn't do it to save energy but leaving the tumble dryer on while we went to bed almost cost us our lives."

A donation page has been set up for the family by friends at gofundme.com

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