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The hero grandad who saved children from blaze horror

THIS is have-a-go hero grandad Frank Colliton, who broke down the door of a burning home with his shoulder to try and rescue a woman inside.

Frank, in his 60s, who had spotted the blaze while outside his own house across the road, wasted no time in helping clear women and children from the blazing building before barging into the women's shelter in south Dublin in an attempt to drag Sandra Barbour out.


Barbour (34) was last week acquitted of setting her home alight in the fire on September 30 last that left courageous Frank with burned hands.

"The gardai were there a few minutes earlier and shortly after they left I thought I saw flames at the window upstairs, then four seconds later the place just went up," Frank told the Herald.

"I ran over and started ringing all the buzzers and eventually got in. I could see kids playing inside and I told someone to get them out, and then I ran up the two flights of stairs to where I thought the fire was."

Frank started banging on doors to clear people from the building, and told another woman who came out in her dressing gown to leave as quick as she could.

"Then I banged on Sandra Barbour's door but there was no answer, so I used my shoulder to break the door down," he explained.

"I tried one bedroom but she wasn't in there, and then as soon as I opened the second bedroom door the smoke just poured out," he added.

"I thought I should open the window to let the smoke out in case she was in there, but when I did the blinds had melted and fell down onto my hands. I didn't feel any pain at the time because the adrenaline was going," Frank explained.

The smoke and flames eventually beat Frank back, and the fire brigade came and rescued the woman from the room. But Frank was hospitalised with burns and had to attend outpatients for three months.

Barbour was subsequently prosecuted for arson but the case was dismissed at Dublin District Court. She had pleaded not guilty. Judge David McHugh ruled that the State had failed to provide any direct evidence that she had caused the fire, which left the apartment "uninhabitable".


The court heard gardai had answered a separate emergency call to the apartment half an hour before the blaze started. Their earlier visit came as a result of an alleged suicide-threat 999 call.

Gardai found Barbour lying on the floor of her bathroom, next to a bath full of water. She was unresponsive but Garda Kevin Molyneaux said when he checked her vital signs her pulse was strong.