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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Young woman questioned over fatal fire at surprise party

Published 18/03/2014 | 02:30

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The scene of the fatal fire in Mallow, Co Cork
The scene of the fatal fire in Mallow, Co Cork

A YOUNG woman has been arrested after a fire that claimed the lives of two men at an impromptu birthday party in a flats complex.

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John Palmer (36) and Greg Lonergan (36) both died in the blaze at the Granary Court complex in Mallow, Co Cork, early last Thursday.

Two other people, including Mr Palmer's twin brother, Chris (36), were rescued thanks to the heroism of gardai who fought smoke and flames to drag them to safety.

Mr Palmer remains in a critical condition in Cork University Hospital (CUH).

All four were attending a surprise party on Wednesday night for Mr Lonergan who was to celebrate his 37th birthday last Friday.

Gardai arrested the woman, in her 20s, at an address in Cork city and brought her to Mallow station for questioning.

She can be questioned for an initial period of 24 hours.

The woman was arrested after investigating gardai received the preliminary results of forensic examinations conducted at the scene of the fire.

The fire was initially described as accidental but gardai later said they were keeping an open mind over precisely how the blaze started.

Local residents said the two gardai who risked their own lives to save the occupants of the apartment deserve awards for their bravery.

Garda Catriona O'Sullivan and Garda Liam Phillips were beaten back by heavy smoke in their attempts to rescue the two men trapped in the flat.

The two officers managed to force open a rear door and battled billowing smoke to get upstairs and drag Chris Palmer and another occupant to safety.

However, their repeated efforts to re-enter the flat were frustrated by extreme heat and thickening smoke.

Both gardai were treated for the effects of smoke inhalation at CUH.

The Palmer twins are originally from Dublin but Chris Palmer has been living in north Cork for some time.

Mr Lonergan – a father of one – is from outside Mallow.

John Palmer and Greg Lonergan had to be pulled out of the burning building by Mallow fire brigade personnel.

Both were pronounced dead before they could be transferred to hospital.

It took Mallow and Kanturk fire brigade units three hours to extinguish the blaze.

Irish Independent

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