Heroes save three lives from daytime blaze

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The last of the smoke from Wednesday’s apartment fire on Harbour Street drifts 
skyward. Photo: Thomas Gibbons

The last of the smoke from Wednesday’s apartment fire on Harbour Street drifts skyward. Photo: Thomas Gibbons

Lives were saved in Mullingar this week (March 5 ) after a number of passersby selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to pull three people from several apartments that went on fire in Harbour Street.

Postman Leon Matthews (33 ), along with Kerrigans barman Chris Carr (31 ), and John Daly’s bar manager Ross Brunton (32 ) managed to exticate two men in their 50s and a woman in her forties from the three burning apartments before the emergency services arrived.

“In fairness, they arrived very quick, the fire brigade was literally there in no time, but the fire spread awful fast,” said postman Leon in conversation with the Advertiser.

He explained just how fast the fire - whose origins have yet to be established - spread throughout the building.

“After having a look round the back of the ground floor Chris went for a fire extinguisher first in Kerrigans because he thought that’s all it would take. After seeing how far it had gone when he went back, he went and got the ladder then,” said Leon.

“There were two guys upstairs in separate apartments, but the lad in the apartment directly above the fire was in trouble. He was about to give up because of the smoke, and only the lad in the other apartment ... the smoke was very bad, unbelieveable. He would’ve died if his neighbour hadn’t got him,” said Leon.

He explained how Ross and Chris went up the borrowed ladder to the first floor window and assisted the two men from the upstairs hallway to the street below.

Downstairs was more distressing as he could hear the screams of the trapped woman, and modestly attributed her survival to a bit of luck.

“We heard her screaming out the back, and only she was lucky enough to find her [apartment’s] front door in all the smoke, and get into the hall. She just fell out, so I just ran in and got her by the shoulders. The hall door was already open,” said Ross.

“You dread to think what might have happened. The two lads played a massive part, but it probably helped that the three of us all knew each other, and knew what we could do,” said the modest Ross.

Only the woman was brought to hospital for minor smoke inhalation by ambulance staff who were immediately there as Leon brought her out.

The fire was brought under control within 20 minutes by six firefighters in breathing apparatus.

“There was quite substantial damage, so we have no indication as to what started the fire,” said a spokesperson for the Mullingar Fire Service.

He confirmed it would now be under the investigation of a Garda forensic unit.

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