Community helps make Christmas special for Mansfield Woodhouse family who lost everything in house fire

The community has rallied round to make Christmas special for a Mansfield Woodhouse family who lost everything in a house fire.

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 4:45 pm

Megan Armstrong, 23, her 10-month-old son Ovie and her mum Michelle, Harmieson, 51, were pulled from a first-floor bedroom window after a blaze started in their kitchen on Sandringham Drive.

The family’s six year old dog Wilson was found unconscious from smoke inhalation when firefighters arrived on Monday, December 14.

Megan said: “My step-dad Gary had gone to work. I woke up hearing the fire alarm at about 6am. My first thought was for Ovie. I ran to his room and swooped him up, and went out onto the landing. You couldn’t see the stairs for smoke. I shouted my mam who was asleep.

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Megan Armstrong and baby Ovie

“Mam ran out, saw the smoke and pushed me and Ovie back into my room, she tried to go downstairs but the smoke was too much. We put blankets by the bottom of the door. I was panicking. I didn’t want Ovie breathing smoke, my mam came up coughing and choking.

“We rang 999 and they came within 14 minutes, it felt like forever. We had to go out through the bedroom window, Ovie first. I was panicking because he is a heavy baby, I didn’t want them to drop him, I didn’t want to let go.

"They came back for me and I went down the ladders, my legs were shaking, I’m scared of heights. I kept saying ‘where’s my baby.’ They went back for mam, she was distraught, stressed, I was trying to calm her down and she just said ‘Wilson!’ We remembered he was downstairs, but they had got him out, he was on the lawn, they got him breathing, they were fantastic.

The burned out kitchen at Sandringham Drive

“It has affected Wilson’s lungs. He needs a lot of love and to be with people – he looks sad, he is such a gentle dog it breaks my heart. I keep giving him cuddles."

The family have been given a temporary house as of Tuesday (December 22.) It is thought it will take six months to fix their home.

Megan said: “There was damage to the kitchen, the whole of downstairs, it’s uninhabitable. We lost everything. It's been very emotional. It was going to be Ovie’s first Christmas, all the presents were wrapped. We were looking forward to it.”

Following an appeal, the community has rallied to donate furniture, beds, sofas, toasters, food, toys for Ovie, even a turkey and Christmas tree.

Wilson injured in the fire

Megan said: "We’re overwhelmed at people’s kindness. We didn't think Ovie’s first Christmas was going to happen, but thanks to our communities in Mansfield and Sutton, we have hope and a Christmas to look forward to. I feel like we are in some amazing Christmas film.”

A Go Fund Me page started by Megan’s brother Ryan Armstrong has also raised over £700.

Ryan said: “Besides the fact that most of their belongings downstairs suffered either smoke or fire damage a couple weeks before Christmas, we also nearly lost Wilson.

Michelle Harmieson with grandson Ovie

“He had life saving treatment from the fire service. He wasn’t insured and the costs to the damaged property will be severe enough, we hope to raise a small amount for Wilson’s vet bill. Material things in life mean nothing but a dog is family.”