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Woman detained over birthday blaze tragedy

A woman in her 20s has been arrested by gardai investigating a fire that claimed the lives of two men at an impromptu birthday party.

John Palmer and Greg Lonergan (both 36) died in the blaze at the Granary Court complex in Mallow, Co Cork, last Thursday.

Gardai managed to drag two other men, including Mr Palmer's twin brother, Chris, to safety.

He remains in a critical condition in Cork University Hospital.

The twins are originally from Dublin, but Chris had been living in north Cork for some time.

All four men were attending a surprise party on Wednesday night for Mr Lonergan, who was to celebrate his 37th birthday last Friday.

Gardai arrested the woman at an address in Cork city and took her to Mallow garda station for questioning.

The woman was detained after investigating gardai received the preliminary results of forensic examinations conducted at the scene of the fire.

The fire was initially described as accidental, but gardai later said they were keeping an open mind amid mounting concern over precisely how the it started.

Local residents said the two gardai who risked their lives to save the trapped occupants of the apartment deserved awards for their bravery.


Gda Catriona O'Sullivan and Gda Liam Phillips were beaten back by heavy smoke in their attempts to rescue the two men still in the flat.

They managed to force open a rear door and battled billowing smoke to get upstairs, from where they dragged Chris Palmer and another occupant to safety.

John Palmer and father-of-one Mr Lonergan, from Mallow, had to be pulled out of the burning building by fire brigade personnel. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

It took Mallow and Kanturk brigade units three hours to extinguish the blaze.

Post-mortem examinations were carried out at Cork University Hospital.

The results will not be released until an inquest is held.