8 minutes away from gas supply being ignited: 19 families homeless after Dublin flats fire

8 minutes away from gas supply being ignited: 19 families homeless after Dublin flats fire
The electrical box. Picture: Dublin Fire Brigade

Up to 150 residents in a flat complex, were just minutes away from a serious explosion which could have claimed numerous lives or caused serious injury, due a fire broke out in an electrics house.

The fire broke out at 9am on Saturday in Marmion Court Flats, Blackhall Street close to the Light House Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin.

Up to 150 residents living in the three blocks were evacuated within minutes of the fire. The electrical box is housed close to the gas storage unit which feeds all of the flats.

Units from Dublin Fire Brigade were on the scene within minutes ensuring that everyone was evacuated safely from the 50-year-old blocks.

The cause of the fire remains unknown but Dublin City Council officials will be investigating reports from locals that water was seeping into the electrics house.

'Lucky to be alive'

While residents in two of the blocks have been allowed to return to their homes, 19 families (60 people) remain homeless due to having no electricity and other issues.

Many of the families are being accommodated at the nearby hotels of the Maldron and Hendrick hotels. However, many will have nowhere to go tomorrow.

Mary Kinsella, who has lived in the complex all of her life, and who is involved in the local residents' committee said: “I was told by a fireman who attended here on Saturday that we are all lucky to be alive or not seriously injured.

“If they (fire units) hadn’t arrived in time then we were eight minutes away from the gas supply being ignited due to the fire. There were people running out of the complex in their underwear such was the chaos. If the fire had happened at night-time god knows what could have happened.

"We’ve had desperate problems here and now this is just the last straw. There are so many families left homeless now and many of them have young families."

'Downtrodden and weary'

“We’ve been told by Dublin City Council that this problem could take something like six to eight weeks to sort out. We are trying to get them housed in local hotels but we won’t know until early in the week if that is going to work. We want to try to keep children from the flats accommodated in the area so that they have a sense of normality.

“We are downtrodden and weary over the years from the problems we’ve had here, with water running down walls, outside stairs, rats and bird poo. This is really the final straw for us.

“Basic maintenance is not a privilege or a bonus and Dublin City Council is our landlord. They should be dealing with these major problems. We look after the flats inside why can’t they do the same for the structure of the buildings. These are some of the newest flats of this type in Dublin even though they are 50 years old this month but they are in the worst condition.”

Last year the residents claimed they were being forced to catch rats and kill them in an attempt to rid the buildings of the rodents.

Locals said council efforts to stem the rat infestation using poison have not worked.

Dublin City Council said they are aware of Saturday's incident and officials are due at the complex tomorrow.

Former Lord Mayor of Dublin and local independent councillor Christy Burke met with residents and called for the demolition of the flats.

“These flats need to be demolished and a regeneration project put in place. What happened here could have been a catastrophe. It’s bad enough now that 60 people are left homeless and looking for accommodation.

“Having to help an 85-year-old woman living there find accommodation is just appalling to see. I’m planning on tabling a motion for that to happen and discussions to be held by the Council on this. Sticking plasters used by the Council won’t work anymore.”

Councillor Burke said they could not secure accommodation for those affected last night, because of the pressure on accommodation due to the All Ireland final.

"We're hoping to get the 19 families into a hotel nearby, for the kids going to school in the morning," he said.

"We also need water brought in - I spoke with the city manager early this morning and we're trying to get tankers into the complex this afternoon. Hopefully we'll sort that out today, or if not, tomorrow."


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