'Passing' firefighters in miracle rescue from flats blaze
A man had a miraculous escape when he was pulled from his blazing flat in an old convent building in the early hours of Good Friday.
William Douglas, in his 30s, was semi-conscious when firefighters found him lying on the bathroom floor of his flat in Arklow, Co Wicklow.
He escaped with his life from the flat shortly after 4.30am.
Firefighters were in the area and arrived on scene very quickly after battling a gorse fire at Brittas Bay. They were returning to Arklow when they got a call to go to St Mary's Court flats complex in the town.
When the firefighters arrived at the scene, several flats had been evacuated and residents were on the street.
"They said that one man was missing," said chief fire service officer John Connelly.
He said four firefighters using breathing apparatus entered a ground floor flat and found Mr Douglas lying on the floor of the bathroom.
"He was barely able to speak," he said. "We took him out and put oxygen on him until the ambulance arrived."
Mr Douglas and two others who were suffering from smoke inhalation were rushed to hospital.
Mr Connelly said the emergency services were at the scene within two minutes of receiving an emergency call, but another five or 10 minutes could have proved fatal.
He said flames from the fire were shooting out through the front window of the downstairs flat when they arrived.
A garda forensics team examined the flat later yesterday morning to establish the cause of the fire.
The front bedroom of Mr Douglas's flat was gutted and alternative accommodation had to be found for residents of overhead flats that suffered smoke damage.