A Naas family had a lucky escape when a fire swept through their home off Dublin Road on Christmas morning, making the house uninhabitable.
85-year-old Joe Conroy was taking a shower at around 11.30 am when the fire took hold downstairs in the semi-detached dwelling at Ashgrove, one of the older residential developments in the town.
Alerted by the smoke alarm, Mr. Conroy went downstairs and tried to extinguish flames he saw coming from behind a piano. The dining room quickly filled with smoke, forcing him to flee the house clad only in a towel.
“Although he’s 85 he is very fit and able; he realised he could not put the fire out and went to neighbours for help,” his daughter Petra told the Leader.
The Conroys’ immediate neighbours were not at home and the alarm was eventually raised by others living across the road because Mr. Conroy had left his phone behind.
His daughter Kirstin and grandson Luka, who also live there, were at mass when the blaze started.
“The fire brigade arrived very quickly but smoke was coming from the house by the time the firemen reached it. When I arrived from Kilcullen the firemen were still there but they had put the blaze out. It was a very lucky escape for everybody though the house is absolutely gutted,” added Petra.
Another daughter Jennifer also lives in Naas with her family, numbering eight, and she hosted Christmas dinner for her dad, sister and nephew.
One of the few items to remain intact in the wake of the fire was the oven - with the Christmas turkey roasting inside.
It has since emerged that though the contents of the home were insured, the actual house building was not.
“Dad has cancer and while it doesn’t let it affect his day to day life he had a kidney removed around a year ago and this could have resulted in the renewal of the building cover being overlooked. Historically the contents and buildings were insured on different policies,” added Petra.
The family faces a financial headache as they consider the possible cost of repairing the fire and smoke damage.
“We don’t really know what started it. Maybe the firemen or the insurance assessor will in time; it could have been Christmas lights, a candle or an electrical source. We’re guessing but we think it started in the kitchen or dining room,” said Petra.
She also stressed the importance of having a smoke alarm at home and thanked neighbours and friends who have generously supplied some replacement clothing.