Families' terror at being trapped by 'malicious' fire
A WOMAN and a young girl who fought through suffocating black smoke to escape a fire at their Dublin apartment block are still in hospital being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
There were dramatic scenes when the blaze took hold in the MacUilliam Lane complex in Tallaght on Monday night. Residents were forced to escape down ladders that neighbours had propped up against the walls after hearing screams of terror.
The blaze spread after a couch being stored in the ground floor stairwell caught fire.
"The smoke just filled up the landings and the vent in the roof didn't open. The lights also went out and you couldn't see your hands in front of your face," said local David Conlon.
As the landings filled with toxic smoke, families opened their windows and shouted for help.
Across the road, neighbours heard their pleas. "It was absolutely shocking. The smoke was pouring out of the building and you could hear children screaming 'we're going to die up here'," said Janet Quinless, who lives across from the apartments.
"We were running with blankets and cardigans and water to help them. Everybody just went into action mode."
One family who came down the ladder was Paul Lockhart, his wife Ciara and children Henry (1), Liam (5), and Megan (11).
"The smoke was just too bad. There was no other way out," he said.
Jenna O'Connor crawled down the stairs and found two young girls on her way.
"We had to feel our way down. One of the little girls burned her hand on the hot metal railings," she said.
Oaklee Housing Trust, which manages the properties, said a malicious fire was started in the ground-floor stairwell.
Oaklee Housing Trust is an approved housing body that provides social housing and works in conjunction with South Dublin County Council.
A spokesperson for South Dublin County Council said it has met with the residents.