Saturday 3 December 2016

Exclusive: Father's ashes, Christmas presents, makeup work kit lost after apartment set on fire

'We have been left with absolutely nothing' - Mother and son homeless after apartment set on fire

Cathal McMahon

Published 02/11/2016 | 20:42

Station Hill apartment on Tuesday night and inset Grainne O'Brien
Station Hill apartment on Tuesday night and inset Grainne O'Brien
Firefighters at the scene of an apartment fire in the Station Hill Apartment Complex in Clongriffin, North Dublin this evening. Photo:Colin Keegan.

A young mother has told how her home and everything in it were destroyed in a terrifying arson attack.

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Grainne O’Brien (26) almost choked to death on dangerous fumes when she attempted to put out the blaze at her flat in Clongriffin, North Dublin on Tuesday night.

Both she and her six-year-old son did manage to escape but, in an interview with Independent.ie, Ms O’Brien revealed that everything else was ruined.

“I'm just too devastated. Whatever has happened, me and my son never deserved this treatment.

Gardai at the scene of an apartment fire which occured last night in the Station Hill apartment complex in Clongriffin, North Dublin this morning. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Gardai at the scene of an apartment fire which occured last night in the Station Hill apartment complex in Clongriffin, North Dublin this morning. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

“We have been left with absolutely nothing between us.”

Ms O’Brien explained that she had been the victim of an earlier assault and in a follow-up incident the alleged assailant returned to her apartment and set fire to her bed.

Grainne O'Brien before the assault and arson attack
Grainne O'Brien before the assault and arson attack
Grainne O'Brien after the assault and arson attack

“I ran out the house with my son when he broke through the door and I ran across to my other friend’s apartment. I really didn’t feel very protected.

“I think he set fire to the bed,” she said. “How I found this out was that as he was leaving he shouted up to my friend and said ‘tell Grianne her house is on fire’.”

Ms O’Brien explained that she raced back into the flat to try and quench the blaze.

“I didn’t know how bad it was. When I ran back in the smoke inhalation was so bad that I had to run back out I couldn’t breathe, it was terrifying.”

The fire brigade were called to the Station Hill apartment block shortly after 5:30pm on Tuesday.

Ms O’Brien’s apartment was destroyed and adjacent flats were also damaged in the suspected arson attack.

Gardaí and six units from Dublin Fire Brigade attended the scene.

One man was arrested by gardai and is currently detained at Coolock Garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. 

Ms O’Brien, who works as a makeup artist and tutor, explained that she only discovered the full extent of the damage caused when she returned to the flat on Wednesday.

“My son’s Christmas presents gone, all my makeup kit so now I cannot work anymore until I try and build stuff back up.

“Also my father’s ashes and every single picture I've ever had of him are gone too.”

She said: “I really don’t know where to go from here, it  just feels like a big dark hole with no way of getting out.”

She explained that she has received a huge amount of support and help from friends.

Firefighters at the scene of an apartment fire in the Station Hill Apartment Complex in Clongriffin, North Dublin this evening. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Firefighters at the scene of an apartment fire in the Station Hill Apartment Complex in Clongriffin, North Dublin this evening. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Firefighters at the scene of an apartment fire in the Station Hill Apartment Complex in Clongriffin, North Dublin this evening. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

“I want to say thanks to everyone. People have been putting up donations on Facebook. We are staying in a hotel tonight but essentially we are homeless.

“I just want to move on with my life with me and my son. I just want a happy safe home.”

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