Crowdfunder ignores health woes to help fire-struck family

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A firefighter facing a devastating health diagnosis is helping to crowdfund thousands of pounds for a young family whose Oban home was gutted by flames.

Brian MacDonald, who has Motor Neurone Disease and struggles to walk, was so moved when he heard what happened to Danica Fleming’s family on Sunday night that he set up a Justgiving page.

Mr MacDonald, who is a family friend and has served 13 years with the fire service in Glasgow, said when he saw a video on his phone of the fire ripping through the flat in Soroba’s Colonsay Terrace, he just had to help.

He set a crowdfunding target of £5,000 and by Tuesday nearly £3,000 had been raised by 118 supporters.

Ms Fleming and her young son were not at home at the time of the blaze but her partner is understood to have been in the flat and required treatment at the scene for smoke inhalation, said Mr MacDonald.

Mr MacDonald said: ‘I was in bed when my younger brother sent me a message from Oban and a video of the fire. As a firefighter, I’ve seen the devastation on people’s faces coming out of a fire like that and the terrible upset it can bring. I could not sleep for thinking about poor wee Danica’s face.’

And he added: ‘I’ve got my own stresses and worries because of my health, but today isn’t about me. I wanted to help them somehow. We can’t bring back belongings or change what’s happened, but we can help Danica and her family rebuild their life and make a new start.

‘I’ve spoken to her on the phone and she was just breaking her heart, saying she can’t thank people enough.

‘Her home is gutted, it’s in a bad state. The firefighters did well to get it under control, it could have spread easily,’ added Mr MacDonald, whose brother John, also a serving firefighter, was on duty that night.

‘Oban is a great community. It shows understanding and compassion when people are in need. I have also experienced that care first hand, so much so that I’ve decided to leave Glasgow and come home to Oban as my condition gets worse. I’m moving back this week.’

Mr MacDonald, 42, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease one year ago and his health has deteriorated to the extent that walking is now difficult and he has just had an electric wheelchair delivered.

An open day at Oban Fire Station donated just over £2,000 of money raised to MND Scotland in a nod to Mr MacDonald, and proceeds are also to be donated next month from a die-cast model show in Benderloch.

Greig Fleming, station manager at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said the Oban crew was alerted to a well-developed flat fire within a four-storey Colonsay Terrace building at 8.02pm on Sunday.

‘Operations Control mobilised two fire appliances and an aerial vehicle to the scene, where crews wearing breathing apparatus extinguished a fire within the kitchen of a second-floor property.

‘One male casualty suffering from mild smoke inhalation received oxygen therapy at the scene and was passed into the care of Scottish Ambulance Service personnel, but did not require hospital treatment.’

There were no other reported casualties but a total of eight homes had to be evacuated with all residents accounted for.

Firefighters had to ventilate the smoke-filled building and finally left the scene just before 11.30pm.

To make a donation to help Danica and her family, go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/brian-macdonald-2