An entire community has rallied around a well-known Roscommon town man after he narrowly escaped injury when a fire caused substantial damage to his home on Circular Road/Henry Street last month.
74-year-old Tom, or T Hill, as he’s known to most of Roscommon town, was resting in his bedroom when a fire broke out in the kitchen next to it on Sunday evening, October 25th.
The fire quickly engulfed the house and Tom was lucky to escape through the front door after being alerted by a neighbour.
“I was in bed listening to the radio and thought I head a noise coming from the kitchen,” Tom told the Roscommon People earlier this week.
“It didn’t take long until there was smoke everywhere and I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. I felt like I was suffocating…I can still feel it and smell it.
“I could hear a banging on the window. It was my next-door neighbour, Frank Beatty, and he was shouting into me that the house was on fire. If it wasn’t for him I would have been in big trouble. I left the house fairly quickly after that!”
The Roscommon Fire Brigade were on the scene almost immediately and soon brought the fire under control before the whole house was engulfed. The kitchen and front living room were completely destroyed, however, and upstairs rooms were badly smoke-damaged. The roof was saved due to the quick action of the local firefighters.
Tom’s home was unfortunately uninsured and since the fire he has relied on his legion of friends in Roscommon town and beyond for support.
“Money isn’t important but I lost a lot of memorial cards in the fire which is the worst thing. The house wasn’t insured…that would have been the sensible thing to do!
“The important thing is I lived to tell the tale and we’ll work everything out. I have been as well looked after as any man has ever been since that fire. I have great friends and neighbours. If you travelled all over Ireland you wouldn’t find better,” he said.
Those neighbours and friends have come to the fore since the incident. On the night of the fire, Tom stayed with Stephanie and Keith Donlon in Oldwood before moving to stay with Darren Hoare and family on Henry Street.
He has been inundated with offers of help and support and a group of friends have now come together to help Tom return to his beloved home in time for Christmas.
A local group has set up a Gofundme campaign, ‘The Tom Hill House Restoration Fund’, in order to raise the necessary funds to carry out restoration works.
A bank account has also been set up at Permanent TSB in Roscommon for this purpose and details will be published in the near future. Those willing to help out financially are asked to contribute via the Gofundme page or directly to the bank account.
Local building contractor and project coordinator, Gerry Dervin, is calling for help from tradespeople.
The house was extensively damaged in the fire and needs rewiring, re-plumbing, new doors and windows, a new heating system, a new bathroom, walls and ceilings need to be sheeted and skimmed, new flooring needs to be installed and rooms need to be repainted. All of Tom’s furniture will also have to be replaced.
Tradespeople willing to volunteer their time to help in any way are asked to contact Gerry on 086-2546467.