Heroic father saves his family from house blaze despite burns
A father of five was hailed as a hero after bravely dragging his family to safety from their blazing home despite suffering second degree burns in the process.
Kevin and Suzann Cashman vowed to rebuild their Cork home despite the heartache of seeing all their possessions - including their children's Christmas presents - lost in the inferno.
The family, whose five children range in age from 18 months to 13 years old, admitted they were "totally overwhelmed" by the response to an aid appeal for them on Cork radio station RedFM, which saw them swamped with offers of Christmas dinners, toys, accommodation, and clothing.
Kevin admitted that, but for two fire alarms he installed in the Dun an Oir property in Kanturk, Co Cork, the blaze could have had tragic consequences.
"The main thing is that everyone is alright - but it's heartbreaking, we've lost so much."
"It could have been a lot worse. We're very, very lucky that it is not a bunch of white coffins we are left with here today," he said.
Suzann hailed Kevin as a hero for saving herself and their children Mackenzie (8), Conor (7), Ryan (3) and Saoirse (18 months) from the blaze.
Their eldest Mackenzie was staying with friends when the fire occurred.
"Kevin was downstairs when the smoke alarms went off. I think it was around 3am or so (on Thursday). He ran up to the bedrooms, shouted that there was a fire and got us all out of the house."
The fire caught hold so quickly that, as Kevin got the last of their children safely out of the property, his foot crashed through a blazing ceiling.
He suffered second degree burns and was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
"I don't know what would have happened if Kevin wasn't there and if the didn't hear the smoke alarm and act so quickly," Suzann said.
"But no one was hurt, we have each other and we'll rebuild. We're not leaving Kanturk. Our children love it here and we intend to stay," she added.
Kevin's sister, Kathleen, said the fire has devastated the family.
"They've lost everything - absolutely everything," she said.
"They had all the Christmas decorations bought as you'd expect with five young children. They had the Christmas tree up, Santa and the lot."
Kevin, Suzann and their children are now staying with relatives and neighbours while they await emergency accommodation.