Castleisland Fire Brigade crew members were alerted to an emergency last night at five minutes to 11pm.
The were directed to No.18 Desmonds Avenue, the home of native, Chris Birminghan-Doody and her varying number of once strayed dogs and cats.
The upper floor of the two-storied building was engulfed in fire when the brigade arrived only a few short minutes after the call-out.
Chris was safe and well by this time and her animals were also out of the house. Dermot and Joan Daly were asleep in an upstairs bedroom in the attached house are were alerted by neighbours as smoke began to invade their room.
Fire crew member and a neighbour of Ms. Doody, Denny Greaney suffered what a colleague described as ‘minor burns’ in the line of duty during the fire.
The outbreak destroyed the upstairs part of the house while downstairs escaped relatively unscathed except for water damage.
Investigations into the origins of the fire will be conducted later today. Chris is reported to be well and is being catered for and comforted by neighbours and friends.
The kind-hearted animal lover spends almost every shilling she gets on catering for her large ‘family’ of animals – many of which strayed into her or were left at her gate and landed on their four feet.
We can only wish Chris well in coming to terms with the loss of her home and Denny a speedy recovery from his injuries.
I was summoned to Chris’ house one day during the summer of 2012 to take photographs of the wake of her ‘Old Man’ Rex. She had just lost a friend of an incredible 28 years in the course of the night before. Rex had been her crossbreed companion since 1984.
Rex, as befitting one bearing the name, was laid out on a suitably royal pair of red cushions from the time of his passing to the following evening.
‘An incredible age for a dog,’ I ventured as I met Chris after arriving at the house.
“You’d live long too if you had cod liver oil and garlic tablets with your grub every day of the week,” said Chris.
I asked her if she followed a similar diet plan for her own health and wellbeing: “I do in my arse because I couldn’t afford it. I feed ‘them’ before I feed myself. I’d go hungry before I’d leave them short of anything,” said Chris. The ‘Them’ she referred to included: 15 dogs, 13 cats and growing. At that time she also had three budgies and eight ducks.
A fine duck that was about to change hands at Sheila Prendiville’s one evening was rescued a few days from the oven and given as a present to Chris.
It had a great life for a few years with her. It died of a heart attack after a Halloween banger went off close to the house.
Perhaps fittingly, a dog stood guard at the front of the house this morning as neighbours and friends took stock of the frightening events of the night before. All were glad that, at least, no one was seriously hurt and they realised too that the news could easily have been a lot worse.