A YOUNG mother told how she was enjoying "peaceful" festive celebrations after last year proved action-packed for all the wrong reasons when she was forced to rescue her three children as fire engulfed their home on Christmas morning.
Vivienne Kellett (29) has made a full recovery after she was placed in an induced coma in hospital due to smoke inhalation as doctors worked to treat burns to her hands and arms from the blaze which ravaged their two-storey home at Knockmore Grove, Tallaght, Dublin 24.
Now 12 months later, the devoted mother – along with her three children Ellen (10), Thomas (4) and 18-month-old Eric – told how she was enjoying peaceful celebrations at her new home – only a few streets away from her old house.
"There have been a lot of fires this year and that was very hard to look at," Ms Kellett said following their own Christmas miracle. "We must have had somebody watching over us that night to be all okay now."
The drama unfolded at around 3.30am as the fire broke out in the semi-detached house.
"I could hear Ellen and Thomas in the room. I kind of knew there was something wrong as I couldn't breathe very well and the baby was coughing. Normally the baby was a very sound sleeper. I turned on my bedroom light and I couldn't see. There was no visibility in the room," she explained.
"I made my way into the two of them. We tried to get down the stairs but couldn't as the heat was too much."
Ms Kellett recounted how she passed the children – including her six-month-old baby – out the back window onto a flat-roofed extension to neighbour Robert Finn, who was later helped by her direct next-door neighbours, brothers David and Raymond Fitzgerald and their parents John and Carmel.
She said her eldest child was afraid to be lifted down and leave her mother behind.
"She was saying, 'Mammy I can't leave you'. I think that was what was more frightening for her, then the fireman comes in and she sees me getting whipped away," she said.
Ms Kellett blacked out as the fireman carried her down the stairs to safety. She was put on a life-support machine and spent three days undergoing treatment in hospital for smoke inhalation and scorch marks to her hands and arms. The children were also hospitalised as a precaution.
Neighbours swiftly rallied around to provide gifts and household goods last year after many of their Christmas presents and belongings were burnt.
"I got home from hospital two days after Stephen's Day and my mother's house was full of stuff," she said.
This year, Santa delivered toy blocks, a go-cart and a Nintendo 3DS to the household. On Christmas morning, they visited Vivienne's mother, Joan, before enjoying dinner at their new house.
The family are still waiting to find out if the blaze was triggered by an electrical fault or a possible cigarette burn.
"We are all very conscious of everything being plugged out at night," Ms Kellett added.