A Craigavon family feel they are lucky to be alive after a blaze torched their home in the early hours of this morning.
The Magee family were wakened from their sleep at their Parkmore home by a nieghbour frantically battering on their door.
Dad Alex (49) said he immediately smelt smoke and looked out the window to see the ‘orange flames of fire’.
“It was terrifying,” said Alex.
Immediately he got wife Shelley and daughter Chloe (19) out of the house and phoned the NI Fire and Rescue Service.
“I shouted for everyone to get out and phone the fire brigade and then ran down stairs to answer the door to Tatiana (the neighbour),” he said.
Alex believes Tatiana may have saved their lives.
“Everyone around us were starting to come out. We have very good neighbours,” he said.
“We came out the front and then went around the back. There was a big fireball where my shed was and the oil tank next door,” said Alex.
He explained that the previous tenants had left around three weeks ago and the house next door was empty.
“The oil was running down the garden towards the house. The oil was in flames as it was running down the garden,” he said.
Alex said the breeze also was fanning the flames and the fire soon spread to both the empty property and his own home.
He said his shed is completely gutted and expensive tools destroyed.
The roofs of both houses are also badly damaged and in the Magee home there is extensive water damage.
And the family fled with just the clothes they were wearing, unable to return home due to the damage at the house.
Alex said he keeps tropical fish with nine tanks in the house. “I will probably lose all the fish,” he said.
“Everyone is in a state of shock,” he added.
Chloe, whose bedroom is gutted, said: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Alex said, on behalf of his family: “I would like to say on behalf of my family and I that we are very thankful for all the help and support we received last night from our friends and neighbours.
“To wake up in the early hours of the morning to see flames coming from your garden is a terrifying sight and without the fast actions of our neighbours to call the fire brigade and alert us in the house it might be a completely different post I’m writing.
“Thank you to everyone who rang the fire services, offered us clothes and tea/coffee, who stayed out with us and even offered us their houses, it’s a great feeling knowing that in our time of need we could rely on our community to help us out.
“We are all extremely thankful that nobody was hurt. And we would like to extend our thanks to everyone involved.”
A Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) received a call at 1:34am to a report of a fire at the Parkmore area of Lurgan in the early hours of this morning (Thursday 21st July).
“Two Fire Appliances from Lurgan Fire Station and two Fire Appliances from Portadown Fire Station were deployed to the scene. Firefighters using thermal imaging cameras, hosereel jets and breathing apparatus dealt with a fire which had spread from an oil tank to 2 residential premises in the area. No one was injured during the incident and a nearby shed was also damaged.
“Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service finished at the scene at 3:06am and the cause of the fire is under investigation.”