Sunday 23 July 2017

'I'm just grateful my family are all alive' - grandmother's words after 'terrifying' house blaze that left firefighter injured

  • Grandmother says she is 'devastated' by fire
  • Fire broke out in family home this morning
  • One firefighter broke both wrists in incident
  • 'There was smoke everywhere. It was very frightening'
The fire at No 16 Canal Walk in Athy Co Kildare.
Pic Steve Humphreys
28th June 2017
The fire at No 16 Canal Walk in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017
Gardai at the scene of the fire in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017
Gardai at the scene of the fire in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017
The fire in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017
Neighbour Pat Moriarty at the scene of the fire in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017
Firefighters at the scene in Co Kildare. Picture courtesy of Emergency Times
Firefighters at the scene in Co Kildare. Picture courtesy of Emergency Times
Firefighters at the scene in Co Kildare. Picture courtesy of Emergency Times

Alan O'Keeffe and Cathal McMahon

A family whose home was badly damaged has expressed relief later that no one had lost their lives in the blaze.

Emergency services were called to the scene at Canal Walk, in Athy at At 10.45am.

Firefighters from Co Kildare and Co Laois tackled the blaze, while a senior source said one firefighter was injured in the incident.

A garda spokeswoman confirmed that a member of the fire service was brought to Naas General hospital with "non life-threatening injuries".

Gardai at the scene of the fire in Athy Co Kildare.
Pic Steve Humphreys
28th June 2017
Gardai at the scene of the fire in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017

Local people said the badly damaged council house was occupied by a couple and their four children, all aged under seven years old.

Grandmother Jennifer McVeigh said; "My daughter and her husband and their four four children are all okay.

"I'm devastated by what happened. My daughter is in a terrible state and deeply shocked and I'm looking after her.

"I'm just grateful that they are all alive and that's all that matters," she said.

The fireman, a local man aged in his 30s, was injured in the blaze and was taken to Naas General Hospital.

The firefighter broke both his wrists but will make a full recovery, colleagues say.

Gardai at the scene of the fire in Athy Co Kildare.
Pic Steve Humphreys
28th June 2017
Gardai at the scene of the fire in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017

The emergency worker was called to the scene of the blaze on Canal Walk, Athy at 10.45am

Originally locals and firefighters believed there was an explosion at the property but they have since established that it was a loud noise caused by the heavy fire.

The fire at No 16 Canal Walk in Athy Co Kildare.
Pic Steve Humphreys
28th June 2017
The fire at No 16 Canal Walk in Athy Co Kildare. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th June 2017

The officer, who was tackling the blaze, broke both his wrists when he fell inside the property and was taken by ambulance to Naas General Hospital where he is receiving treatment for his injuries.

One colleague said he will make a full recovery.

A friend wrote online: "1 injured only - from a fall. Broken wrist. Tough as nails. Will make a full recovery."

Emergency

Garda forensic investigators, dressed in white protective suits, entered the sealed off house to seek the cause of the blaze. 

It was initially believed that a gas explosion had taken place, but this was later denied by the fire services.

Labour councillior Mark Wall said he arrived on site shortly after the fire broke out this morning.

"I received a number of calls to say there was a fire so I was there on site this morning to see what the situation was."

He explained that a number of people in the estate were "concerned at the speed the fire took over".

"It is my understanding that there was some type of explosion and that is how the fire spread so fast. Within a couple of minutes the house was abalze."

Cllr Wall said that all the occupants were accounted for at that stage.

"The fire station is about 1,000m away so the fire officers were on site almost immediately. My understanding is that the firefighter was inside the building and something happened."

He said: "My thoughts are with the fires services at this time and we hope this emergency worker makes a full recovery."

He said the tight-knit community is "very upset about this".

"I have been working with the Kildare County council this morning and everyone has been accommodated. One house destroyed and a second house had smoke damage. They will have to do examinations on that."

Neighbours said today the fire was "terrifying" as flames and smoke billowed from the burning home.

Father-of-two Carl Delaney said; "The woman in the house came out of house and she was hysterical.  There was smoke coming out of all the windows and the vents in the roof.

"I went up to the front door and opened it and thick black smoke came out. It was completely black and very thick and there was no way of getting inside so I shut door again.

"There was no one in the house at this stage," he said.

Next door neighbour Patrick Moriarty (47), a father-of-eight, said; "The first thing we heard was a hissing sound and then we saw the black smoke. Myself and my wife got our children and grandchildren out of the house straight away.

"I went around the back of our house and I could see flames coming out of the kitchen window in the house next door. The flames reached all the way up to the gutters," he said.

He said the fire station is situated at the entrance to the Canal Walk council housing estate and fire engines arrived within a few minutes.

'When the firemen opened the front door, thick black smoke was coming out. Within five minutes after the firemen going into the house, I heard breaking glass and a lot of commotion.

"I was told one of the firemen was blown out into the back garden by some kind of back-draught. I didn't hear any explosion.

"The fireman was helped out into the front garden and was put lying down on the grass.

"He was taken away in a stretcher in one of the ambulances.  We heard he is going to be okay, thank God."

His wife Jacqueline (51) said "The first thing I heard was a whoosh sound next door and then I saw the smoke.

"The first thing we did was get the two sons and two daughters and two grandchildren out of the house.

"There was smoke everywhere. It was very frightening. I thought that our house was going to go on fire too.

"I ran down the road with the children.  I remember a fire in Athy over 20 years ago when two children died and I was terrified," she said.

A 44-year-old mother-of-three said; "I could see the woman outside the house and she was hysterical. The black smoke was coming out of the house.

"The fire brigade got here very fast. The firemen were very brave in putting their lives on the line."

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News