Family issues smoke alarm appeal after fire guts great-gran’s home of 48 years

A great-grandmother's life was saved by a smoke alarm last week which woke her from her sleep in time to escape a fire that gutted her home
Family issues smoke alarm appeal after fire guts great-gran’s home of 48 years

Louise Walsh

A great-grandmother's life was saved by a smoke alarm last week which woke her from her sleep in time to escape a fire that gutted her home of 48 years.

The family of Kathleen Weldon are now urging people to ensure alarms are working in the homes of older relatives after the blaze destroyed the house and all the possessions and memories of the 86-year-old.

Mrs Weldon was napping in her armchair in the sitting room at her home in Mulhussey, Co Meath when she was woken by the alarm and met with thick black smoke coming from her living room after 4pm last Thursday.

She escaped but has lost everything she treasured in the fire at the house where she lived for 48 years, many of those with her late husband Thomas and four children.

Mrs Weldon's family are now raising funds to buy her the basics such as replacement hearing aids and glasses, as well as new clothing.

"Gran is still in shock but realises how lucky she is," said her granddaughter Edel Kelly.

The blaze destroyed the house and all the possessions of Kathleen Weldon

"She was having a nap in her armchair in the sitting room when she was woken up by the smoke alarm and saw black smoke coming out of the living room.

"She was very much aware of letting in oxygen in case it was an electrical fire so she opened the front door a tiny bit, got out and closed it behind her.

"She flagged down one of Thornton's refuse lorries and the driver went to the house with a fire extinguisher he had in the vehicle. He did his best but within minutes of the fire services arriving, the house was in flames.

"Gran lived there for 48 years, many of those with granddad before he passed away. Her children Caroline, Noeleen, Pascal and David, her 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren would have visited regularly.

"She has lost all the pictures of her and granddad and many other memories.

"She is living with us at the minute and I think the reality is only just setting in. We have no way of replacing her memories but we would like to help fundraise to help rebuild her life with the practicalities.

The home prior to the fire

"Kathleen worked as a cleaner in Mulhussey School for over 30 years and is known far and wide for her generosity and the community here has been unbelievable so far.

"We would also like to thank that man in Thornton's for his help as well as all the people in the emergency services.

"Investigations continue into the cause of the fire but gran suspects it may have been a radio in the living room.

"As a family, we realise that if the smoke alarm was not working, we could be facing a whole other scenario here that isn't worth thinking about so we would urge people visiting elderly relatives to make sure they have smoke alarms and that they are regularly checked and maintained."

The GoFundMe page where Mrs Weldon's family are fundraising to buy her basic supplies has raised almost €20,000 to date and can be accessed here.

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