A fire at the home of a Kilkenny family who let their home insurance cover some of the costs

A Kilkenny family have been left devastated after a fire destroyed their home – just after they canceled their home insurance to pay for other expenses.

Derek Kenneally, his wife Deirdre, and their three children – Anna, 11, Eoin, 8, and Oisin, 6, were left with nothing after the fire which started in the garage jumped to their home, destroying the whole house and leaving them empty.

The parents, from Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny, both work at Waterford University Hospital and want to spread the word about what happened to them so the same thing doesn’t happen to another family.

A Kilkenny family have been left devastated after a fire destroyed their home – after leaving their insurance policy to pay some bills. Image: GoFundMe

“We see heartbreak and suffering every day at work but when it happens to your family, it’s not something you expect or plan for,” Mr Kenneally told the Irish Times.

‘Last Thursday, my eldest daughter had a friend over. When we went to bed we told them not to stay up all night talking. It was a summer night with no school the next morning so we didn’t mind him going to bed later than usual.’

Around 1:30am, the girls heard banging and banging coming from the back of the house – which was a garage on fire.

Firefighters
The fire started in the garage of their home when Mr Kenneally’s daughter and her friend raised the alarm, getting everyone out. Photo: Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

‘[The girls] “I looked out the window and saw an orange light,” Kenneally said. I ran back and grabbed the dog, got everyone out of the house and called the fire brigade.’

While Mr Kenneally told emergency crews that while the garage was about 14 feet from the house, he feared the house was in danger – which confirmed that the fire had jumped 14 feet, unfortunately destroying the house.

Fortunately, none of the occupants were injured in the fire.

home insurance
The couple let their home insurance lapse to pay some bills, but when their insurance lapsed, the fire unfortunately happened. Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

‘Within five minutes, the fire jumped 14 meters into the house,’ Mr Kenneally said. ‘Fifteen minutes later, the house was beyond belief… the whole roof was on fire. The firemen were amazing at how quickly they got there but it was all done quickly.’

A Garda fire investigator explained that the cause of the fire was believed to be a water pump in the garage – which Mr Kenneally said happened to his father years ago.

‘Water pumps have a small box with a solenoid that can get very hot,’ he said. ‘I know they can get hot because one of my dad’s went a few years ago and it caught fire. Fortunately, where it happened to him there was nothing near it and it was the box that went.

‘I had it in the garage/shed where everything was kept, like old paint cans and fire extinguishers. I would ask anyone reading this who has a water tap to make sure there is nothing near it that could be a source of ignition.’

Mr Kenneally is upset that he did not renew his home insurance, saying the rise in life costs left his family with no choice but to save money by canceling it.

“I know the whole country is struggling with money right now and we are no different,” he said. ‘It’s one of those things where you cut corners as much as you can, and let things flow. When the home insurance was up for renewal, there was more at the time, I put it off until the next month and should have it now. People tell me that I should have asked for a loan or something to pay but pride will not allow you to do that. And of course pride has gone out the window now.’

However, Mr Kenneally said the outcome would have been far worse if it had happened the next day – because he would have been at work and everyone in the house would probably have been asleep.

Local people have rallied around the Kenneally family over the tragedy, with a GoFundMe set up by Mullinavat GAA Camogie Club raising more than €45,000 at the time of writing, with a target of €300,000. Mr Kenneally is grateful for the support, saying ‘I can’t thank people enough.’

You can donate to the Kenneally family’s GoFundMe HERE.