'I told the gardai: Please just let me know that she's alive'
Two of the young girls injured in a mystery explosion at a house are in intensive care in hospital with one of them on a ventilator and in a coma, their families have said.
Four girls were rushed to hospitals in Dublin after the blast at Ascail Fionnan in Drogheda, Co Louth on Sunday afternoon.
Friends Jessica Woods, Sarah Louise Coddington, Zara Pugh and Chloe Coyle - who are all aged between 12 and 14 - received shocking burns in the explosion.
Jessica, from St Finian's Park, was last night described as being in a critical condition in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. She suffered severe burns to her upper body.
Her mother Thriona was too upset to talk about what happened, but said her daughter was on a ventilator and in a coma.
Jessica is said to have burns to her face, head, neck and back.
Sarah Louise Coddington's mother Leona said her 13-year-old daughter had also suffered burns to the back of her body and her hair.
She described her horror at opening her door in the Moneymore estate on Sunday afternoon to see two gardai on the doorstep.
"I knew it was something bad. I nearly buckled.
"I just told them 'please let me know she is alive' and they told me she was," Leona said last night.
"I'm traumatised by what has happened. I named my daughter Sarah after a friend of mine, Sarah Jane McKenna, who I adored and was killed in a car crash in 1997.
"Her anniversary was only two weeks ago. I was afraid I was going to lose my Louise too," she added.
Relatives of Zara Pugh, in whose house the explosion occurred, said she was in intensive care in hospital in Dublin with burns to her back, head and legs.
The injuries of the fourth girl, Chloe Coyle from St Finians estate, were not known last night but it is understood that her wounds were less serious in nature than those of her three friends.
The group of girls had been friends with tragic Gareth McGuirk, the 13-year-old boy who drowned in a Drogheda reservoir on July 24.
The cause the of blast, which happened in an upstairs room of the house at around 2pm on Sunday, is still not fully known.
But it is suspected that an igniting aerosol can may be responsible.
None of the families spoken to by the Irish Independent said they knew what happened in the house.
Gardai in Drogheda said the matter would be fully investigated and it was hoped more would be known when the girls are well enough to tell them the sequence of events that led up to the explosion.
The investigation is not a criminal one, but is necessary by the fact that four young girls were injured and an internal wall in the house was believed to have been blown down by the force of the blast.
Three ambulance and three fire brigades raced to the scene after the blast, and locals reported seeing neighbours rushing to the girls' aid in the garden, quenching the flames on their bodies with water and administering first aid. The chief fire officer for Louth, Eamon Woulfe, said there were "serious risks" if aerosol sprays came in contact with flamees.
"We would always advise people to keep any naked flame away from any spray from an aerosol," he added.