They also want to warn people not to keep wood or other fuel close to their stove.
“The firefighters told me that our fire began when the basket holding wood for the stove ignited. Thankfully we were not at home at the time,” said Midi Walsh.
Midi Walsh, her husband Noely and four boys are now staying with family for Christmas.
“Our house will have to be gutted and rebuilt. Honestly we could not afford to have the contents of the house insured so we will be starting from scratch again in that regard.”
“All we were left with were the clothes on our backs.”
The fire began last Monday afternoon while the couple and sons Nathan (11), Leon (7), Bailey (6) and Callum (2) were out.
“Noely returned home first with the boys and when he opened the door he saw the smoke. In the space of two and a half hours since we’d left, the house was on fire.”
The family live outside Dungarvan in Co Waterford and home school their children.
A Gofundme page has been set up to help them rebuild their home, “and it will also go towards replacing the boys school books”. They renovated their detached home in 2007.
Midi said: “The whole contents of the house will need to be replaced and the house itself will have to be gutted and rewired and extensive renovations done.”
“All the contents that were contained within the four walls will have to be destroyed as everything had extensive smoke damage.” “The fireman told me that the basket of sticks which was by the fire but not touching it, had ignited. He said timber needs to be five feet away from a stove. We would like to tell people that.”
The family is still coming to terms with what happened and Midi said, “we are very very lucky we had house insurance, we didn’t have contents insurance because we could not afford it.”
The couple praised the professionalism and kindness of the fire crews who came to their aid and also the gardaí.
“They were fantastic. The firefighters kept reassuring me they could save the house and they did everything they could to look after us and make sure we were all okay.”
“The female garda told Leon that he would be okay and Santa would find him wherever he was. She told him they had a fire when she was small and Santa knew where to find her.”
The children were in the car while the fire crews were working.
Midi said: “I came back to the car at one stage and the firefighter knew all the kids names, the dog’s name and its colour and really comforted them and kept them calm and reassured.
“They told them ‘we work with Santa all the time and he’ll be able to find you’.
“While we are devastated, we are lucky everyone is alive and safe. I just want to make it all okay for the boys and make them feel secure.”
Their network of friends including the homeschool community are among those supporting them as they head into the festive season.
“The immediate need for clothes and essential supplies were met within hours of the fire. Our local community gathered and sorted us so amazingly, we are so grateful. Our homeschool community and close friends took the reins to organise our needs and thought practically and planned ahead and set up the Gofundme page so we can try and sort some stability for the kids and meet their needs as they come.”
The family is preparing for a Christmas Day they never expected. “As long as we are all together, and safe we will be happy.”