Sunday 25 September 2016

'I could hear screaming... I got up one or two steps but the smoke was too much' - Young man's heroic attempts to save tragic fire victims

Two people tragically died in the blaze despite the heroics of the young man

Published 02/05/2016 | 06:57

The house in St Coleman's Park, Macroom, Co. Cork, where two peolpe died in the early hours of this morning after a house fire
The house in St Coleman's Park, Macroom, Co. Cork, where two peolpe died in the early hours of this morning after a house fire
University Hospital Cork
Cork University Hospital

A young man has described how he tried desperately to save three people from a burning house.

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The young man, in his late 20s, defied smoke and flames to kick down the door of a property at St Colmans Park in Macroom, Co Cork after a house fire erupted shortly before 4am this morning.

Two people tragically died in the blaze despite the heroics of neighbour Tim Coleman.

A woman in her early 60s jumped out of a window of the house to escape the smoke and flames.

The two deceased have been named locally as Kenny Relihan (26) and Noel O'Mahony (62).

Mr Relihan is the son of the only survivor of the tragic house blaze, Noirin McAuliffe (61).

Mr O Mahony is a family friend who was staying at the house on Sunday evening.

Both of the deceased are from the Macroom area and were working locally.

Mr Coleman has told of how he could hear desperate screams as he attempted to get through flames and thick smoke in the house. 

"My friend was on the phone to me, he was calling over [to my house], he had planned to call over," he told RTE News.

"He came running up the stairs, it was about 3.30am, and said the house across the road was on fire so myself and my friend ran down, ran straight across the road and we could see flames coming out the top window.

"I ran over and tried barraging in the door with my right shoulder.

"I broke the glass. My friend ran and we kicked it at the same time, we did it a few times and kicked it down.

"I tried going in, I got up one or two steps but the smoke was too much and I had to come out," he continued.

"Ryan, my friend, was screaming 'she's at the top window'.

"My mother's boyfriend Alan came running across the road with a ladder. I grabbed the ladder and went to the top of it and I said to her, 'either you jump now or you'll be in there'.

"She jumped and I jumped down off the ladder and picked her up and put her on the wall.

"I tried to go back in, but I could only get to the second step again, I had to just stop. I could hear screaming at that stage.

"I couldn't do any more with the fire and smoke.

"The fire brigade and guards arrived then and it was out of my hands."

Mrs McAuliffe remains in a serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit of Cork University Hospital (CUH) where she is being treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.

Mr Coleman was taken to CUH for the treatment of minor burns and the effects of smoke inhalation.

However, he was released from hospital a short time later.

Neighbours paid tribute to the incredible courage of Mr Coleman.

Emergency services raced to the scene within minutes of the alarm being raised. Macroom fire brigade units had the blaze under control within minutes.

Both deceased men were removed from the scene in hearses shortly after 6am.

The area was sealed off by Gardaí pending a full examination by the Garda Technical Bureau.

However, the initial indications are that the fire was a tragic accident.

Evidence of smoke damage was visible on all front windows to the property located at the rear of the St Colman’s Park estate.

Gardaí and fire brigade officials warned that it was too early to comment on the possible cause of the blaze.

It is unclear where the fire began but fire brigade experts are focusing on the kitchen and living room areas.

Neighbours awoke to the horrific realisation that two people had lost their lives just metres from their front doors.

“It is absolutely shocking. I couldn’t believe the news when I first heard it,” one local man said.

“The first thing some people knew about the tragedy was when they heard the gardaí and fire brigades arriving.”

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