Hero dad Kevin saves young family from burning house

Kevin Cashman, his wife Suzann (centre) and neighbours outside the family home from which the couple and four of their five children narrowly escaped

Ralph Riegel

A father-of-five was hailed a hero after dragging his family to safety from their blazing home despite suffering serious burns in the process.

Kevin and Suzann Cashman (both 42) vowed to rebuild their Co Cork home despite the heartache of seeing all their possessions, including their children's Christmas presents, going up in flames.

The family, whose five children range in age from 18 months to 13 years, said they were "totally overwhelmed" by the response to an appeal for them on Cork radio station RedFM.

They have been inundated with offers of Christmas dinners, toys, accommodation, entertainment and clothing.


Mr Cashman said that but for two fire alarms he installed in the Dun an Oir property in Kanturk, the blaze could have had tragic consequences.

"The main thing is that everyone is all right - but it's heartbreaking we've lost so much," he said.

"It could have been a lot worse. We're very lucky that it's not a bunch of white coffins we're left with here today."

His wife said he is a hero for saving her and their children - Mackenzie (8), Conor (7), Ryan (3) and 18-month-old Saoirse.

Their 13-year-old daughter was staying with friends when the fire broke out.

Cork Fire Brigade is treating the blaze, which is believed to have started in a ceiling, as accidental.

"Kevin was downstairs when the smoke alarms went off. I think it was around 3am or so. He ran up to the bedrooms, shouted that there was a fire and got us all out of the house," said Mrs Cashman.

The fire caught hold so quickly that, as her husband got the last of the couple's five children safely out, 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 he didn't hear the smoke alarm and act so quickly," said his wife.

"I shudder to think what would have happened if he wasn't there .

"The house is totally destroyed. It went up in a matter of minutes. I still can't believe that one minute we were looking forward to Santa and Christmas and the next we've lost our home and all our things.

"But none of the children were hurt, we have each other and we'll rebuild. We're not leaving Kanturk. Our children love it here and we intend to stay. But it is very hard to lose everything you've worked for."

Mr Cashman's sister, Kathleen, said the fire has devastated the family, who are originally from Ballyphehane in Cork city.

"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. It was all destroyed."

The family are staying with relatives and neighbours while they await emergency accommodation.

"It isn't the Christmas we'd expected, but it could have been worse. We have each other and that's what matters," said Mr Cashman.