A TEENAGER who tried to rescue two sisters trapped in a house fire was blown back by an explosion, an inquest has heard.
Dean Kelly (19) was giving evidence into the deaths of Jodie and Anngie Brogan who died in the blaze at their home in Co Donegal last year.
Jolene (Jodie) Brogan (28) and her 27-year-old sister Anngeline (Anngie) died after the fire at a house in Letterkenny on January 3.
Garda forensic officer Noel Keaveney told an inquest into their deaths today that the fire had started in an upstairs bedroom of the house in Ceannan View Park that morning.
It was so intense it had burnt a hole six feet by three feet wide in the floor of the bedroom.
Gda Keaveney said he believed the fire had been started by one of three possible sources, a cigarette, a wax candle or an electric fan heater. Electric smoke alarms had been in working order, he said.
Fire officer Martin Bond said that, through thick black smoke he found Anngie Brogan beside a radiator close to the bedroom window and realised she was already dead.
He then began the search for Jodie and found her inside an en-suite bathroom and removed her to an ambulance. She died 45 minutes later in hospital.
Family friend Dean Kelly, from Kilmacennan, told the inquest in Letterkenny he had been invited to stay in the back bedroom at around 2am by Jody who owned the house. All three had shared a last cigarette before going to bed.
He and the two sisters had bought Budweiser, Baileys and vodka the evening before and had spent the evening chatting, drinking and listening to music.
He said he woke up - and wasn't sure of the time - had thought he had smelled smoke but had gone back to sleep again.
He said he woke up again a short time later. This time he could hear a smoke alarm and jumped out of bed.
"I shouted for the girls to get up but there was no reply from them. I ran to their bedroom and opened the door and there was an explosion and I was knocked back," he said.
He ran next door and asked a neighbour to call the fire brigade before running back to the house.
"I picked up a jumper downstairs, went outside to wet it in the rain and wrapped it around me and went back inside but I had to go back out. I couldn't breathe because of the smoke. I was shouting for them to get out of the house," he said.
Shop assistant Paul Doherty, who was also called as a witness, said he remembered that one of the Brogan sisters - believed to be Anngie - had entered the Centra store at Mountain Top at some stage between 3.30am and 4am along with a fair-haired man but left because a cash machine was broken.
Pathologist Dr Hajnalka Gyorffy found Anngie's death was due to fourth degree burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, soot inhalation and a toxic amount of alcohol.
She found Jodie had extensive second degree burns, has suffered lethal carbon monoxide poisoning and soot inhalation. She also found she had toxic levels of cocaine, alcohol and a sleeping tablet.
Mr Cannon recorded verdicts of death as a result of the medical evidence of Dr Gyorffy.