Saturday 23 June 2018

Residents raised safety fears over flat complex where mother and children targeted in 'petrol bomb attack'

Luke Byrne, Ken Foy and Conor Feehan

Residents of a flat complex where a blaze broke out on Monday had previously raised concerns about fire escape routes, it has been claimed.

Maggie Green (30s) and her son Francie (8) have been left fighting for their lives after a suspected arson attack.

Ms Green's son John (13) and daughter Savannah (7) were also hospitalised following the fire at a first-floor flat in Tyrone Place in Inchicore, Dublin, at around 11.15pm on Monday.

Local councillor Greg Kelly said that residents had previously shared fears over fire safety as well as complaints of damp at the complex built in the 1950s.

The scene of the fire at Tyrone Place Flats, Inchicore.
The scene of the fire at Tyrone Place Flats, Inchicore. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN

"There's only really one stairway to get out and down from the apartments," he said. "I have spoken to residents and that is something which had come up, it would have been raised in local meetings and that kind of thing."

Dublin City Council declined to respond to specific enquires from the Irish Independent about whether there were fire safety concerns at the complex, whether fire safety there had been reviewed recently, or whether it had a fire safety certificate.

"Dublin City Council cannot comment at this time as this matter is the subject of a Garda investigation," it said.

Officers believe an object, "possibly a petrol bomb", was either thrown at the front door or it may have been opened and the object thrown into the property on Monday

Gardaí at the scene of the fire in the first-floor flat in Inchicore, Dublin, yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Gardaí at the scene of the fire in the first-floor flat in Inchicore, Dublin, yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney

"All the indications here are that an accelerant was involved," a senior source said last night.

A motive for the attack had not been established.

The suspected arson attack is being investigated by Kilmainham gardaí.

Ms Green and her three children were trapped in the fire as neighbours battled to get them out.

John was rescued from a balcony at the back of the block by a local with a ladder, while flames and smoke stopped others from gaining access at the front of the block.

Ms Green and Francie were said to be in a critical condition last night, suffering from burns and the effects of smoke inhalation.

She is under sedation and fighting for her life, while Francie has severe burns to his upper body. Savannah has burns to her hands, while John thankfully escaped injury.

Investigators spent a long time at the scene yesterday, searching the flat, the grounds, bins, and even under cars. They also carried out door-to-door enquiries in the flats and in the houses across the road on St Vincent Street West, asking residents if they had seen or heard anything suspicious around the time of the fire.

Members of the Garda technical bureau spent a long time concentrating on the front door and window of the flat.

One local man who tried to help said the door was slightly open when he reached it, and he noticed the area around the ESB meter was ablaze with blue flames, and the plastic boxes surrounding it had melted.

Greg Bolger, who also lives in the complex, described how he saved one of the children by using a ladder to climb in through the back of the apartment.

"I live four doors down and I just got a knock on the door to help," he said.

"The flat a couple of doors down was in flames and I heard all the kids were there, so I got a ladder and climbed up the back.

"I got one young fella out, he's around 13 or 14. I tried to get through the flames (to get the rest) but I couldn't."

The balcony at the back of the apartment was secured by railings, and someone had to cut through a lock with bolt cutters to bring John down to safety.

Neighbour Caroline Jolley said: "Maggie and her three kids live there, and we could hear them shouting and screaming 'get me out', and we were shouting that there was help on the way."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that residents of the Tyrone Place apartment complex had raised concerns about escape routes at the building.

The construction, which was built in the 1950s, was also the subject of complaints about damp as recently as last year.

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