Couple escape mobile home inferno
A Wexford town couple fled for their lives when their mobile home was destroyed in a fierce blaze fanned by storm-force winds.
Robert Lawlor and his former partner Valerie Cullen said they were lucky to be alive after escaping the conflagration which destroyed Robert's luxury mobile on a Curracloe Road site, close to the Shelmaliers turn-off.
And but for the Ireland-Bosnia game, which was on at the time, they both could have died in the flames.
Robert said he was watching the game on his TV last Monday night when, just before the second half, he heard a bubbling noise.
'I went outside and there were flames shooting from the roof.. I couldn't believe it. I ran back inside and shouted for Valerie, who had been asleep. At the same time the electrics went and I couldn't see a thing. The smoke was thick and black and somehow, and I don't know how, we both managed to get out,' he told this newspaper.
At one stage Valerie tried to get back into the blazing mobile to save her cat Jessie and had to restrained by neighbours.
Robert said that within five minutes there was nothing left of the mobile, which he said he paid €35,000 for 10 years ago. His car, which was parked next to the mobile, was badly scorched.
'I lost everything...we lost everything,' said the 64-year-old who is originally from Whitemill Road, 'I'm numb at the moment.'
He said Valerie, a former partner and mother of his two children, had been homeless until a few weeks ago until he offered to take her in until she found a more permanent home.
Cllr Bobby Ireton, whose attention was drawn to Robert and Valerie's plight by a social worker, said was trying to find Robert a mobile to replace the one lost in the fire and would arrange the transport to move one on to the site if he could find a suitable one.
'It will be better to get some sort of roof over their heads.'
'I'm lucky to be alive, but everything has gone, including the little children's Christmas presents. But we're lucky they weren't with us or I don't think we would be here today talking to you,' she said.
'I'm standing up in the clothes I have on me, that's all I have. All I want now is a home for my little children. If anyone has a heart, if the council has a heart, I hope they have a heart to give us a home.'
Valerie said a grown-up daughter of hers was looking after six-year-old Hope and four-year-old Ethan.
Robert, who suffers from MS, said he installed a wood-burning stove in the mobile a couple a years ago.
Last Monday, he said he burned turf in it for the first time and believed that sparks fanned by the storm that was raging last Monday night had been blown back into the roof space of the mobile.
The cat meanwhile also escaped from the fire, suffering only a cut nose.
Anyone who would like to help Robert and Valerie should call 085 2110337.