Mum and son fighting for their lives after blaze kills toddler
A TWO-year-old boy has died and his mother and older brother were fighting for their lives in hospital last night following a horrific Halloween fire tragedy.
Cian Ellard (2) died despite desperate efforts by paramedics to save him after he was dragged out of his blazing Cork home alongside his mother Stacey (26) and brother Calvin (4) early yesterday morning.
Calvin was last night in a critical condition at Cork University Hospital (CUH), though he has shown tentative signs of improvement.
Ms Ellard remains unconscious and in a critical condition in the intensive care unit with her family maintaining a vigil by her bedside.
Ms Ellard's cousin, Janet, who lives just three doors away, said the tragedy had stunned the family.
"We're devastated, we just can't believe it. When I heard what had happened I ran down and they [paramedics] had Stacey on the floor and were trying to revive her," she said.
Janet, who declined to give her surname, said Ms Ellard's entire life revolved around her two boys.
"She was a real lady, she absolutely lived for her children. They were her entire life. You would never find a better mother," she added.
The cousin revealed that Calvin had started national school last month and Cian was in awe of his big brother.
Their mother had already stored Halloween costumes for the boys downstairs at their home and had planned to take them trick-or-treating around the Elm Park estate in Wilton this evening with friends.
Neighbours were alerted to the fire shortly before 4am yesterday.
Two neighbours smashed in a window and door in a desperate bid to rescue the mother and children. They were unable to fight their way past the black smoke, which filled the hallway.
The fire began in the kitchen area and investigators are now focusing on an electrical fault or the cooker as the cause.
Cork Fire Brigade official Edward Buckley said the blaze left the entire house scorched and blackened.
"We got the call at 4.01am and arrived on the scene at 4.08am. A neighbour had forced the front door and broke the glass in the front window but they were not able to find the family," he said.
"Firefighters entered the house using breathing apparatus and found the mother and the two children (upstairs) in the mother's bed," he added.
"They performed Cardiac-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on the older child and got an immediate response. The child was handed over to medics. Sadly, there was no response from the younger child to the CPR."
Cian was later pronounced dead at CUH.
Ms Ellard and her children recently moved to the terraced house from the Deanrock estate, where her family live. It is understood her partner is serving a prison sentence for drug offences.
Prison Service officials, accompanied by a chaplain, informed him of the tragedy before 7am yesterday.
Stacey's grandfather, Dan Joe, who lives in nearby Deanrock in Togher, was said to be too upset to comment on the tragedy. Her brother, Wayne, was among the first family members to arrive at the Elm Park scene yesterday morning.
Togher Community Association secretary Feargal Dennehy said the entire area was numbed by the accident.
"It is a terrible tragedy for any family over a bank holiday weekend -- it is really soul-destroying," he said.
"On behalf of the local community I'd like to extend our condolences to the family and our thoughts are with the mother and child," Mr Dennehy added.
Togher parish priest Fr Robert Brophy offered prayers for Ms Ellard and her two children at Masses in the area.
"It is a nightmare for every parent and every family. It is a terrible tragedy," he said.
Fr Brophy visited the Ellard family at CUH and said everyone was now praying that Stacey and Calvin would recover.