Terrified children in pyjamas flee 4am flats inferno

Alan O'Keeffe

More than 100 residents fled in fear from a Dublin apartment block today when black smoke engulfed the building.

Terrified parents grabbed children and ran for the stairs at the five-storey College View complex in Dublin 11.

"We could hear screaming from other apartments," said a 27-year-old mother as she spoke of a dash to safety in Ballymun.

Families wearing only pyjamas were crowded into the nearby Travelodge this morning as they described their ordeal.

A fire alarm sounded in the building at 4.50am and shortly afterwards gardai and firemen ran from door to door warning people to get out immediately.

Firemen smashed windows to get fire hoses into the upper floors.

Primary school teacher Darragh O'Bradain (27) and Katie Bermingham (26), a publishing company editor, told the Herald of their rush to get out of the smoke-filled building.

"When we got outside we could see firemen smashing the glass on the second floor and shards were coming down beside us. There was smoke everywhere, then we saw a little baby being brought out by the emergency services," said Darragh.

"There was a woman in bare feet which seem to have been cut by broken glass. She was saying 'My baby is still inside'. She was hysterical," said Katie.

Glen Dodrill and his wife Lorraine spoke of waking their children Claudia (10) and Glen (8) to make a hasty exit.

"The fire alarm went off and we didn't know what to do straightaway because the alarm has gone off a few times in the past. But then people were banging on the doors. We smelt smoke straight away," said Lorraine.

"Police were whacking the doors with torches and shouting 'Out, out, there's fire'. Some people didn't seem to know what was going on but the gardai told them everyone had to leave," she said.

"When we got outside people were saying there was a child screaming in one of the apartments," she added.

Husband Glen said: "We got down the stairs okay but when I opened the door on the first floor, it was full of smoke and I couldn't see in front of me. The smoke was gushing everywhere. Some people were panicking."

Fire officers said the blaze was reported in one of the lower floors but smoke quickly filled the rest of the building.