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Mum lucky to be alive as snowman lights start blaze


Hillary Russell in her fire damaged Lettereknny home yesterday.

Hillary Russell in her fire damaged Lettereknny home yesterday.

Hillary Russell in her fire damaged Lettereknny home yesterday.

A MOTHER of six says she's lucky to be alive after a 'snowman' Christmas decoration set her home on fire.

Terrified Hillary Russell (58) thanked a 'sixth sense' for saving her from the inferno at her home in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

The decoration - lit by fibre-optic lights - caught fire in the conservatory of her home and quickly turned into a full-blown blaze on Wednesday evening.

"It happened at 9pm and I would normally have a snooze on the sofa but there was something eating at me and I couldn't settle," said Hillary.

"Then I could smell burning and I jumped up and ran into the conservatory and I could see the decorations on fire and it spread very, very quickly.

"I was absolutely terrified and ran out of the house. I'm so thankful because if that had gone up overnight I wouldn't be here talking about it."

Her two daughters, four sons and extended family spent yesterday cleaning up the mess left by the blaze.


"We could have been taking mum out of here in a box," said daughter Patricia.

"We have decided to speak out to warn other families of the dangers of Christmas decorations.

"Mum is okay now, thank God, but it could have been so different.

"Thankfully the fire was confined to the conservatory and smoke damage to the rest of the house because the fire crew was here within minutes."

Hillary added: "There's a lot of smoke damage and the place is destroyed but the main thing is that nobody was hurt.

"My husband came up the road and he could see the flames coming from the house. It was awful to watch.

"But the fire service were on the scene very quickly and they saved the house from burning to the ground.

"It looks like it was the snowman decoration which started the fire and I would ask people to make sure all their Christmas decorations are working properly."

Acting Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer Glenn Hamilton said: "I'd appeal for everyone to be vigilant, if you're buying lights make sure they're manufactured with a European CE marking."