School appeal sees thousands respond after blaze leaves children's home gutted

After the Co Armagh home of three children and two adults was gutted in a massive blaze, thousands have responded to an online appeal for help.

Five people including three children escape with their lives after fire guts house in Poyntzpass

The children, aged eight, ten and 11, narrowly escaped with their lives during the early morning fire at Aughan Park, Poyntzpass on Thursday morning.

They are all pupils at St Mary’s Primary School in Banbridge and the school’s Parents Teachers Association put out an online appeal for help. Within hours they had offers of help from almost 24,000 people.

The NI Fire and Rescue Service described the fire as ‘intense’.

The five people were outside the property when they arrived and were taken to Daisy Hill Hospital.

The blaze caused extensive damage to the semi-detached and also heavy smoke damage to the house next door.

On their Facebook page, St. Mary’s PTA Banbridge said the family were ‘blessed to escape with their lives following a fire at their home’.

“In the short few hours since our appeal we have been inundated with messages - both here and at school.

“We have been overwhelmed by generosity, from friends and strangers.

“We have witnessed first hand the solidarity and support for families in need, not only from our small close knit community but from the whole borough of Banbridge ❤️

“This is truly amazing, and proves what we preach time and time again - that we all as people have more in common than divides us.

“We’ve had offers of accommodation, clothing and finance from church groups and schools from a number of denominations in the Banbridge area.

“Our appeal has reached over 23,000 people who have expressed a desire to help in various ways.

“The response from the business community has been appreciated - most of whom wish to remain anonymous as they do not want any publicity or attention.

“They all have a genuine desire to help this family.

“Thank you to everyone who has and is helping.

“We know this will only be the start of trying to get this family back on their feet.

“We give thanks for the lives that were saved that night, and we praise those who have touched our lives with the community spirit that we have all come to know and love in Banbridge.

“We feel very, very proud to be a small part of this loving and kind community!

The NI Fire and Rescue Service said they received a call at 4.37 on Thursday morning.

They said two fire appliances from Newry, two from Banbridge and one Command Support Unit and an appliance from Lisburn attended the scene.

A spokesperson said: “Firefighters were called to attend a house fire in a semi-detached property.

“Two adults and three children were out of the property on arrival of firefighters and were taken to Daisy Hill Hospital by Ambulance.

“Firefighters dealt with an intense fire which gutted the house and caused heavy smoke log to the adjoining house. The cause of the fire remains under investigation with early indications suggesting it was accidental.

“The incident was dealt with at 6.24am.”