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Gutted..my house burned down & insurance lapsed; Landlady saves cat but loses possessions & income in blaze.

Byline: JILLY BEATTIE

A WOMAN whose home insurance had lapsed has lost everything in a house blaze.

Fiona Thompson escaped with her cat Bagpuss from the property in Bangor, Co Down, after a fire started in the bathroom.

She was rescued from a ledge on the third floor of the house, having been unable to put out the flames.

All Fiona's possessions were lost, including her furniture, photos and late parents' ashes.

And the house, from which she got her income with two lodgers plus Airbnb clients, was gutted.

Fiona's friends have now started a fundraising drive to help her rebuild her life. Shaunna McCandless Tosh said: "It is all gone. Fiona's house insurance lapsed and she was looking for a new policy when this happened.

"We are grateful she is safe and unharmed, which is the most important thing, but we also know how much her home means to her and her family.

"We want to help Fiona save her home, if possible, or at least provide funds to help contribute to keep a roof over her head, clothes on her back, a chair to sit in, a table to eat breakfast at and a bed to sleep in while she figures out plan B.

"She has lost absolutely everything. She was rescued by the Fire Brigade in her dressing gown and was extremely lucky to make it out alive."

Fiona Thompson Another friend, Rochelle Marhs, said: "This was Fiona's beautiful Victorian family home since birth and it was full of irreplaceable items. She is heartbroken.

"Luckily she got out safe with her lodger who got burnt trying to put out the fire. Her other lodger was already out.

"Fiona's parents bought the house 50 years ago and it has been her home her whole life. After her parents died, Fiona was determined to keep the house going and preserve its life and warmth.

"Tragically, Fiona doesn't have any insurance and her income relied on renting out her rooms and offering an Airbnb service, neither of which can support her now.

"So we are trying to raise funds for Fiona and other affected residents from the blaze on Dufferin Avenue."

One of Fiona's lodgers told of the devastation caused by the incident.

Anna Jarota said: "Everyone went through hell but my landlady and friend Fiona Thompson lost her home and no words can describe how she must feel.

"I want to thank all people who came with help including my employer and one of my friends and to anyone else who offered their support. This is a horrible tragedy, so unexpected and very sad."

A Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said last night: "A sounding smoke alarm alerted the occupants to the fire.

"We would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of having a working smoke alarm."

Two pages have been set up to help Fiona - www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dufferinaveblaze and www.youcaring.com/fionathompson.

irish@mgn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

APPEAL Fiona Thompson

HALL GONE The home in Co Down is uninhabitable

RUINED Only ashes remain

RESCUE Fiona was on the third floor

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2018
Words:523
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