'I escaped blast with just the clothes on my back'
A MAN living in an apartment that was levelled in an explosion at a launderette miraculously escaped with literally the clothes on his back.
Barman Derek Clifford lost all his possessions in the blast that rocked Killarney on Saturday morning and claimed the life of local businessman James Gleeson (59).
Mr Clifford believes he and a friend, Dave Burke, who also lived in an apartment on Brewery Lane above the launderette, were the lucky ones as they both managed to escape uninjured.
Mr Clifford had fallen asleep on his couch when he was woken by the explosion at 6.20am on Saturday. He said he was still in shock after Saturday's events.
"There was just this huge blast and the next thing the window came in and there was glass everywhere and I got up and ran for my life," Mr Clifford told the Irish Independent.
On his way down the stairs he kept calling for his friend, Mr Burke, who escaped through a skylight on the roof. "I saw him up on the roof and I kept roaring at him to jump," he said.
"I lost everything and all I had were the pants I was wearing but the worst part was when I heard Jim (James Gleeson) was missing," he said.
"Material things can be replaced but I feel so badly for the Gleeson family. Jim was an absolute gentleman and I also know his brother Donagh well.
"They're a lovely family and everyone is so sad to hear what happened."
Mr Clifford also praised the emergency services, the gardai and the people of Killarney for their efforts in the aftermath of the explosion, which is thought to have been caused by a gas leak at the launderette.
It is also thought that Mr Gleeson was killed instantly in the blast. His body was recovered in the debris of the business he had built up over almost 40 years on Sunday morning.