Pay Bills

Fire Guts The home of a family who let insurance expire to pay their bills

A family in Kilkenny have been devastated after a fire destroyed their home – just after they dropped their home insurance cover to pay other bills.

Derek Kenneally, his wife Deirdre and their three children – Anna, 11, Eoin, 8, and Oisin, 6, were left with next to nothing after a fire that initially started in their garage blew up their house, destroying the entire property and leaving them with next to nothing.

The parents, from Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny, both work at Waterford University Hospital and want to raise awareness of all that has gone wrong for them so the same does not happen to another family.

A family in Kilkenny have been devastated after a fire destroyed their home – just after they dropped their home insurance cover to pay other bills. Photo: GoFundMe

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

“Last Thursday, my eldest daughter hosted a friend. When we went to bed, we told them not to stay up all night chatting. It was a summer night with no school the next morning so we didn’t mind them staying up later than usual.

At around 1:30 a.m., the girls heard noises and banging coming from the back of the house – which was the garage on fire.

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

‘[The girls] looked out the window and saw a bright orange glow,” Mr Kenneally said. “They shouted at us that the garage was on fire and we jumped out of bed to witness what can only be described as hell. I ran out back and grabbed the dog in his little enclosure, got everyone out of the house and called the fire department.

While Mr Kenneally told emergency services the garage was around 14ft from the house, he feared the house was also in danger – which proved all too true when the fire jumped from 14 feet, unfortunately devastating the house.

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

Home Insurance
The family had allowed their home insurance to expire in order to pay other bills, but as their insurance lapsed, the fire unfortunately happened. Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

“Within five minutes the fire jumped 14 feet to the house,” Mr Kenneally said. “Fifteen minutes later the house was just amazing…the whole roof was in flames. The firefighters were amazing how quickly they got here, but it all happened so fast.

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

“Water pumps have a small control box that contains a solenoid that can overheat,” he said. “I know they can overheat because my dad’s went a few years ago and it caught on fire. Fortunately, where it happened with him, there was nothing nearby and it was just the box that went.

“I had it in a garage/shed where everything was stored like old paint cans and other fire accelerators. I would ask anyone reading this who has a water pump to make sure it doesn’t there is nothing nearby that could be a source of ignition.

Mr Kenneally is devastated that he has not renewed his home insurance, saying the cost of living crisis has left his family with no choice but to save money by letting it expire.

“I know the whole country is struggling financially right now and we were no different,” he said. “It was one of those things where you cut corners where you can and let things slide. When the home insurance was up for renewal, there were so many other expenses at the time, I rolled it over to the next month and have to live with it now. People tell me I should have taken out a loan or whatever to pay for it, but pride will never let you do that. And of course the pride is gone out the window now.

However, Mr Kenneally said the consequences could have been much worse had it happened a day later – as he would have been at work and everyone in the house could have slept.

The local community has rallied around the Kenneally family in the wake of the tragedy, with a GoFundMe set up by the Mullinavat GAA Camogie Club to raise over €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 GoFundMe HERE.