A YOUNG mother of two has spoken of her frantic attempts to save her baby's life after an arson attack on her home.
Brigid Byrne (23) from Grange View Walk in Clondalkin, Dublin, was woken up shortly before 4am on St Stephen's Day by her two-year-old daughter Toni-Brooke "screaming at the top of her voice" in her bedroom.
It is understood a green wheelie bin was pushed up against her front door and wedged under the handle so that it could not be opened from the inside, before the contents were set alight with a flammable liquid.
"I knew immediately there was something wrong. I went into her room and when I was in the hallway there was a really strong smell of smoke going from my bedroom to her bedroom and when I looked down the stairs the place was thick with smoke," Ms Byrne told the Irish Independent.
The mother of two – who has been living alone in the rented accommodation for three years – picked up a baby blanket and wrapped it around her child to protect her from the smoke.
"I could see massive flames outside her bedroom window which is directly above the front door where the fire happened. The wooden alcove above the door was a ball of flames," she explained.
"Then my house alarm went off, the electricity went and then there were banging sounds from light bulbs which had started to shatter from the heat.
"I ran down the stairs and without thinking opened the front door but it was jammed. I tugged at it and when it opened a little bit of black smoke came shooting into the hallway."
Her other daughter was staying in her father's house at the time of the incident.
Ms Byrne then tried to escape through the porch door leading to the back garden, but the door jammed and she had to use a kitchen knife to wedge it open.
"I had my baby in one arm and was trying to open the lock with a knife. The fumes coming in were toxic and I couldn't breathe. My baby was coughing the whole time and I thought she was going to die of smoke inhalation," she said.
"When I got it open it was freezing outside and I didn't have any shoes on. The fire brigade arrived pretty quickly and put it out.
"I can't live here but I've nowhere to go. All my kids' Christmas toys are destroyed and my floor is ruined with soot. My house smells like a barbecue and all my curtains smell of smoke.
"The whole place will have to be repainted. The ESB have been round to fix all the wiring because there were electrical lights on outside and they caught fire.
"I just can't believe this has happened – it's been the worst Christmas of my life."
A garda spokesman confirmed the incident is being treated as an arson attack and is currently under investigation.