A MOTHER of five from Mallow, Co. Cork witnessed her home go up in flames this morning as she arrived back from driving her kids to school.
Mary Gore lost her husband Chris to cancer last month, and one of the few things she managed to retrieve from the damaged home were her late husband's army medals.
She and her five children, who are all under the age of eight, are left with just the clothes on their backs and a few photographs.
Carol Guerin, a close family friend, told The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork's Red FM of Mary's plight.
"The kitchen is completely destroyed. The ceiling is gone. Literally everything they have in the house is obviously very damaged by smoke.
"They literally have the clothes on the back. I am not sure how it happened.
"We do know its the cooker but its fairly bad. Toys, clothes, beds and furniture. Everything they have is gone.
"All Mary was able to salvage was some important pictures and medals that they had in the house.
"They can't take anything else out because of smoke damage."
Mary Gore is a mother to two boys Adam and David who are aged seven and eight and triplets Sarah, Ellen and Teresa who are just five years old.
Carol said the family went to see Santa last week so that the "kids could still be kids", following the death of their father last month.
"They were getting excited for Santa. Chris (their Dad) God love him had cancer and he was diagnosed just around a year ago. He died last month. He was just about to turn 44. His birthday was the week after he was buried.
"Mary is trying to keep herself together for the five kids and had just started coming out and doing her few bits and trying to get ready for Christmas and focusing on a happy time. Then I suppose the house going set her back.
"They couldn't even go back to the house. Her brother very kindly offered to put them up.
"The kids are unaware what is going on. They probably think they are on a grand sleepover."
Carol appealed to members of the public to assist the family as they attempt to rebuild their lives, as the local community offers their support to the devastated family: "Mallow Act of Kindness have been absolutely fantastic and now we have the Go Fund Me page. People have been amazing. Quite a bit has been raised so far."
Anyone who wishes to donate to the Gore Go Fund Me Page can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/mary-gore.