'Lucky to be alive' after house gutted by stove blaze just days before Christmas
A family who have been left homeless by a fire days before Christmas believe they are lucky to be alive.
Midi Walsh, her husband Noely and their four boys are now staying with family for Christmas after the fire in their house in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
The fire began last Monday afternoon while the couple and sons Nathan (11), Leon (7), Bailey (6) and Callum (2) were out.
"Noely returned home first with the boys and when he opened the door he saw the smoke.
"In the space of two and a half hours since we'd left, the house was on fire," said Ms Walsh. "Our house will have to be gutted and rebuilt. All we were left with were the clothes on our backs."
Ms Walsh said that they want to warn people not to keep wood or other fuel close to their stove.
"The fireman told me that the basket of sticks which was by the fire, but not touching it, had ignited. He said timber needs to be five feet away from a stove. We would like to tell people that," she said.
They had a large fireguard around the stove but nothing stopped the flames from catching hold.
The family is still coming to terms with what happened, and Ms Walsh said: "While we are devastated, we are lucky everyone is alive and safe.
"The female garda told Leon that he would be OK and Santa would find him wherever he was."
Their network of friends and the local community have rallied around, and a Gofundme page has been set up to help them rebuild their home.
"The immediate need for clothes and essential supplies was met within hours of the fire. We are so grateful," Ms Walsh added.