Northern Ireland

Fundraising appeal for Belfast pensioner after mobility scooter fire destroyed home

The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Johnny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann
The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Johnny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Johnny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann

A fundraising appeal has been launched for a west Belfast pensioner whose mobility scooter is believed to have caused a fire that destroyed his home.

More than £3,500 has already been donated to a Gofundme page set up to help Johnny McKee (75) after a blaze took over his Glenbawn Crescent home on Saturday.

The 75-year-old was watching television in the bedroom when the fire started in the hallway of his bungalow.

Neighbours rushed to his aid and smashed a window and dragged the former roofer to safety.

But the house and all its contents have been destroyed.

Currently living with his daughter Charlene and her family in Lisburn, she revealed on Monday that a spare battery of his mobility scooter is believed to have caused the fire.

"The spare battery was in the boot of the mobility scooter and it's that what exploded and caught fire," she said.

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She has now set up the fundraiser to help her father.

Charlene said he has been left with nothing, but is particularly saddened by the loss of his mobility scooter as it "gave him independence".

"Our daddy’s home is now gone, and it can not be rebuilt due to the severity of the damage the fire has caused," she said.

"He now has a no home at the age of 75, disabled and with COPD, he now has to restart all over again."

She added that they "desperately now need a home for him so that he can live with the independence that he still has, even if it isn’t much due to his disability".

"I know the community he has around him are going to fight for him every step up the way until we get him back into his own home comforts again," she said.

The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Johnny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann
The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Johnny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann The gutted Glenbawn Crescent home of pensioner Johnny McKee. Picture by Mal McCann

"I can’t thank his neighours and friends enough, and also thank his amazing walking group. 50/50, that he goes along with every evening on his scooter.

"His scooter, home family and friends really are his lifeline.

"I don’t think I can put a value on the sentimental things he has lost but we have to try and start somewhere for him.

"I know the stress of Christmas really affects everyone this time of year, any donation will be greatly appreciated as we try and rebuild some sort of normality for him again."