Thursday 13 December 2018

'The only thing I have is my phone' - Ballymun apartment resident doesn't know if his belongings survived blaze

Gardai say that the building is out of bounds until a full structural and forensic examination by engineers and gardai

Geronimo Roa, resident in the apartments above the Metro Hotel and, inset, the building this morning Picture: Tony Gavin
Geronimo Roa, resident in the apartments above the Metro Hotel and, inset, the building this morning Picture: Tony Gavin
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

A resident who fled the blaze in the Metro Hotel complex in Ballymun last night in his pyjamas has said he doesn't know if any of his belongings survived the fire.

Geronimo Roa lives on the eighth floor of the apartment block at the centre of last night's blaze.

“There was one floor between us and the fire. I live there with my wife, my three year old daughter, and our baby daughter who is just two weeks old,” he told Independent.ie.

He spent last night in the Carlton Hotel in Santry, sleeping on a couch in the lobby while the rest of his family stayed with friends.

Geronimo Roa, a resident of the apartments above the Metro Hotel.
Picture: Tony Gavin 22/3/201
Geronimo Roa, a resident of the apartments above the Metro Hotel. Picture: Tony Gavin 22/3/201

“We heard an alarm, but sometimes they can be very sensitive so I was looking around to see if there was anything wrong, but everything seemed okay,” he said.

“My wife went down to reception and saw people running so she realised something was wrong.

“We left the apartment we are renting and started to go down the stairs to reception and at around the sixth floor we met ten firemen coming up towards us. They were there really quickly,” he explained.

“When we got out I looked back up and I could see the fire. It was scary to see how close it was to our apartment. It was just two floors above us,” Geronimo added.

Tourists from Texas, James and Diana Colunga who were evacuated from the fire in The Metro Hotel. Picture: Tony Gavin 22/3/201
Tourists from Texas, James and Diana Colunga who were evacuated from the fire in The Metro Hotel. Picture: Tony Gavin 22/3/201

“The only thing I have is my phone. I'm here in my pyjamas because that is what I was wearing at the time,” he said.

“I don't know when I will get back into the building, or what belongings will have survived. The fire was really bad,” he added.

The latest information from gardai being given to people trying to get back into the building for belongings is that it is out of bounds until a full structural and forensic examination by engineers and gardai.

Broadband infrastructure on the roof of the building is also out of action, and technicians are unable to access it while the building is sealed off.

An American couple who came to Dublin for the St Patrick’s Day parade and celebrations have told how they missed their flights home today because of the fire.

“We were actually eating in the restaurant when the alarm was raised. Our bags are packed on the first floor but there was no time to get them because we were evacuated so quickly,” said Diana Colunga from Texas.

“The fire was up high and we could see it spread to the other side of the building, but the firefighter’s ladders couldn’t reach it so they had to go inside,” she added.

“The police let us sit in their car for a while because we only had T-shirts on and were cold, and then we were brought here to the Carlton Hotel by bus,” she explained.

“We can’t believe it. We arrived in Ireland in blizzards and we will be leaving following a fire,” said Diana’s husband James.

“We will come back here because the people are fantastic. We really had a great time here and everyone is so helpful,” he added.

“But it’s a shame that we were so close to getting home but all our stuff was in the room on the first floor and we couldn't grab it,” he explained.

The hotel has issued a statement this afternoon, apologising to guests and confirming it will remain closed "for some time".

Metro Hotel wishes to apologise to hotel patrons and guests that the hotel is currently closed, and will remain closed for some time, following a fire.

"All hotel guests (over 150) as well as the residents of 30 apartments attached to the hotel are accounted for and were relocated to the nearby Carlton Hotel for the night," it said.

"The key focus of hotel staff today is to notify inbound guests and to source alternative accommodation for tenants and guests, with whom we will be liaising throughout today.

"Unfortunately, guest and tenant access to personal belongings located in the hotel / apartments is restricted until clearance is received from emergency services. We will provide regular updates as they become available.

"The cause of the fire is still being investigated. No decision can be made about a hotel re-opening date until the cause of the fire has been established and all safety considerations have been thoroughly assessed."

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