herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

'We lost everything in apartment fire', says devastated mum of one

Leanne Cooney and daughter Carly have been left with nowhere to live after the fire
Leanne Cooney and daughter Carly have been left with nowhere to live after the fire
The aftermath of the blaze

A devastated mum of one has lost her home and all of her belongings after a fire destroyed her apartment.

Leanne Cooney (26) and her six-year-old daughter, Carly, have lost all of their possessions to a blaze that started in their rented Santry apartment on Sunday.

"It feels like it isn't real," a shell-shocked Leanne told the Herald.

"We've lost everything, we've literally been left with nothing."

For the past three nights the pair have been sleeping in a nearby hotel, which is being covered by the management company of the apartment block.

Leanne was using a rent allowance in her apartment and is now afraid she will be homeless if she can't find somewhere affordable to live.

"I'll probably have to wait to be re-housed. There's nothing out there at the minute. They said it could be months before the apartment is liveable," she said.

None of their home contents were insured and, in addition to their clothes, toys and appliances, Leanne has also lost some €4,000 in recording equipment that she used for a college course in sound engineering.

"I saved up for so long and had to take loans out to pay for some of it," she said.

Leanne and Carly are one of six families who were affected by the fire.

"People have been donating clothes and uniforms for my little one. I can't believe how generous everyone has been," she said.

"Carly is a little bit oblivious to it all, I think. She was excited at first that we got to stay at a hotel but I don't think she realises we can't go home. She's already starting to miss her things."

"It's horrible because we all have kids and they don't know what's going on, they don't know that there's been a tragedy," she added.

On Sunday evening Leanne and her daughter were out of the house when she was notified via a Facebook message from her neighbour that her home was on fire.

"I rushed back in a taxi straight away. I went in when it was all over in the evening and everything was just destroyed in the bedroom, it was gone and everywhere else was completely black," she recalled.

Bravely

"There was nothing we could take, not one item of clothes."

During the ordeal a neighbour bravely broke into her apartment because he feared Leanne and her child were there.

"It was a very heroic thing for him to do. He was trapped then and had to be taken out of the building," Leanne said.

Six families were forced from their homes in Geraldstown Wood Apartments after the blaze due to smoke and water damage.

Most were housed in the Metro North Hotel near their apartments, while others went to stay with family members.

"The neighbours have all been very supportive of each other. The only thing that is keeping us going is that we know it could have been so much worse. There were six apartments affected and nobody was seriously injured - to me, that's a miracle," she said.

Two adults and a small child were brought to hospital for smoke inhalation after the fire, but they have all since been released.

Leanne has asked people to donate clothes and supplies to her and the other families as they gear up for the school term.

"I hate asking anyone for anything. I've always been very independent, but I don't know what else to do," she said.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Noeleen Reilly is helping to coordinate the collection and has advised people to leave donations in the Ballymun Child and Family resource centre in Shangan.

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