News

FIRE HERO

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The father of three children who escaped a fire which gutted their home
says they were saved by a hero.
Stephen Bernes said that if it were not for John O'Hare his three
daughters would not be alive today.
A fire, believed to be accidental, ripped through their Poyntzpass
home at Aughan Park in the early hours of Thursday morning (31 May).
John O'Hare, partner of the children's mother, woke up and raised the
alarm.
And Stephen told this paper, she wishes to publicly thank him for
saving the lives of his daughters Kaylagh, Lauren and Sophie, aged 10, 9
and 8, and their mum Iona.
"John just happened to wake and saw the smoke then managed to get them
all out. They were so lucky. The Fire Service said that nobody should
have got out of there," he said.
The girls are all pupils of St Mary's PS in Banbridge.
The fire destroyed all their personal possessions leaving them with
just the night clothes they were wearing.
A major fundraising campaign to help the family get back on their feet
was launched with almost 2,500 raised.
Iona, her partner John and her three daughters were all taken to Daisy
Hill Hospital by ambulance for smoke inhalation and observation
following the fire.
As news spread that the three girls had lost everything in the fire,
the Banbridge community began to rally around and by that evening,
donations had already been left at St Mary's for them.
The school and its Parent Teacher Association (PTA) had appealed for
help and support for the family and said the response has been
“astonishing".
As well as the many practical donations and offers of help, almost
2500 has been raised by an appeal on JustGiving.
Yesterday (Monday), Stephen said they are still trying to come to terms
with what has happened.
“When I first went up I thought that maybe it wasn't as bad as I was
told and you would be able to salvage something, but it was gutted from
top to bottom.
“Iona is still a wreck but she is trying to get by but it can be
emotional when you realise the lengths everyone is going to help.
“The kids are all over the place. They start remembering something that
they want and then realise that it is gone, which upsets them.
“They are back at school today (Monday) to try and get some normality
and they are really looking forward to seeing their friends," said Stephen.
“The support has been amazing from everyone, there has been clothes and
groceries donated, and businesses saying that they will donate.
“You do not realise how good and helpful the community are until you are
on this side of it," he added.
A collection point has been set up at St Mary's PS with a spokesman
commending the response so far.
“The support offered and provided from our school community, the wider
community across Banbridge and beyond has been truly inspirational."
A Fire Service spokesperson said that the cause of the fire remains
under investigation with early indications suggesting it was accidental.

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