Friday 20 September 2019

'It could have been three hearses instead of ambulances' - firefighters praised for saving children from burning house

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Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

HEROIC firefighters have been praised for rescuing three children from a burning house, with a shocked onlooker saying, "it could have been an absolute tragedy."

Peter O'Neill praised New Ross firefighters for their quick-thinking and bravery and said that he doesn't "think they're appreciated enough."

Peter told RTE Radio 1's Liveline that he was carrying out renovation work at a house on Main Street in New Ross, Co Wexford last Friday, April 30, when he realised something was wrong.

He explained: "It was around half three and I could smell smoke, so I just put my head out of a window on the second floor and I could see smoke billowing out from the house next door.

"I rang 999 straight away, I could hear children crying, I went out the back and I see two of the kids at the third story window, they were getting sick and crying.

"I heard another cry from the background and I knew there was another child in there, that cry was getting a lot fainter and then it just stopped.

"I tried to get in one of the windows but it was so intense, I was overcome by smoke and I had to turn back around."

Peter said it only took around seven minutes for the crew from New Ross Fire Service to arrive, he said the personnel should be particularly commended as they are a retained service, meaning they are all fully trained but also have full-time other jobs.

"The fire services arrived really quickly, they had their ladders and I brought them around the back and was able to show them where the kids were.

"The fire service came and I brought them around the back and they could see the kids hanging out the back window and I was able to point them to the window where the other kid was, I'd say he was only about three years of age.

"One of crew busted in the front door and ran straight up the stairs to get the child.
"He was unresponsive but they started doing CPR and managed to bring him back around.

"It wasn't a nice scene but it turned out well thankfully," he said.

Peter said that the children are understood to be "doing well" now and none were seriously harmed in the incident.

He told presenter Joe Duffy: "It could have been an absolute tragedy, it could have been a lot different.

"When the fire service came it was just bang, bang, bang and they managed to get everything done.

"I'd never seen anything like it before and I don't think they're appreciated enough, it could have been three hearses instead of three ambulances there if they hadn't acted so fast."

He was brought to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation but said the incident affected him mentally more than physically.

Peter said: "It affected my head more than my health really - for a few days I just couldn't sleep thinking about what happened and what could have happened.

"I had never been through anything like that before and I never want to experience anything like that again - it was a horrible experience."

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