Meath councillor's wife has lucky escape from fire after jumping from upstairs window

Meath Councillor's Wife Has Lucky Escape From Fire After Jumping From Upstairs Window
Cllr Alan Lawes says his wife Dee is 'incredibly lucky' that she survived the fire
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Louise Walsh

A Meath councillor is encouraging people to have a fire escape plan in place and regularly check their home insurance policy after his wife had to jump from an upstairs window when a blaze gutted their two-storey house.

Cllr Alan Lawes said his wife Dee was "incredibly lucky" that, although she suffered serious ankle injuries in the fall, she escaped without head or spinal trauma.


The couple have now moved back into their rebuilt home and are urging people to at least buy a foldable ladder which can be used to climb from an upstairs window in the event of a fire. He is also calling on people to check that their house is fully covered and valued properly under their home insurance.

Dee suffered two broken feet in the fall from her bedroom window as flames engulfed her home in Johnstown, Navan, in September 2022. She is still undergoing intensive physiotherapy for her injuries.

However, her husband Alan, an independent councillor, says that if the fire occurred even a few days earlier, there would have been more people in the house.

He was working in Cappagh Hospital when he was called in the early hours of the morning by neighbours who had helped his wife to safety after finding her lying at the front door.


The blaze left the couple temporarily homeless, but they are now back in their newly-rebuilt home which has been upgraded with a remote fire alarm.

"It could have been a lot worse. My daughter had stayed the night before and she had been in the attic room. Last week, my other daughter was home from New Zealand and everyone was staying at our house," he said.

"The fire started in the hot press on the landing. If it happened one night before, my daughter wouldn't have made it out of the attic. If it happened last week, with a packed house, there would have been casualties.

"I'm grateful for a lot of things right now. We have fire doors and Dee mostly keeps the bedroom door shut. I don't. If it was open, the fire would have spread to her very fast. As it was, the door worked as a shield to give her time to get out.


"Sometimes Dee hangs her dressing gown on the door and leaves it ajar. That night she didn't. Also, I had only fixed a broken handle on the window. If it was still broken, Dee wouldn't have been able to open the window to get out.

"Dee woke up coughing from the smoke and tried to escape but was met with a wall of flames and thick black smoke on the landing.

"Without thinking, she jumped out from our bedroom, breaking two feet on the concrete driveway below.

"My fantastic neighbours in Boyne View heard the house alarm going off and looked out the window to see Dee. I was working in Cappagh when I got the call to say she was safe but the house was in flames


"The upstairs of the house was gutted and the rest is water damaged. Amazingly, my mother's old photographs which I had wrapped in plastic in the attic were undamaged because the insulation had protected them.

"We sourced these fire ladders from a local firm that we now keep in our bedroom. They fold up into a box, the size of a cereal box and can be attached to a window sill to allow anyone to climb down from an upstairs bedroom if a fire starts.

"We also now pay a subscription to Eircom for a fire alarm which will alert the emergency services in any event of fire.

"You never think that a fire is going to happen to you. And we don't know yet how it started, only that it started in the hot press.


"I would ask people who are thinking of not renewing their house insurance to save a bit of money for other bills at this time. Don't do it. You just don't know what is around the corner.

"For those who have house insurance, please make sure your house is properly and recently valued because the insurers will only pay out to the last evaluation. It's on the onus of the homeowner to check this.

"My wife's bravery and quick thinking saved her life. But, now we have extra precautions in place to ensure she won't have to go through that again."

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