Ex-resident of blaze house: ‘It could have been me’

A former resident of the accommodation where the bodies of two Irish students were found following a fire has spoken of his “shock” and “devastation” at the tragedy.

Karl Magee, 24, from Irishtown, Mullingar, was on college placement at the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe until just before Christmas. He had lived in the house for the past year.

“I’m actually devastated. I just got in from work at 8.30am this morning... my sister showed me a photo of the staff house on her phone and immediately I was in complete shock.

“I tried to get through to my friends over there. There is still four people over there that I lived with and they were still in the house at the time [of the fire],” Mr Magee said.

He explained that, in a twist of fate, he had recently moved out of the house and into a nearby apartment run by the institute. He also turned down an offer by the institute of an extra month on his placement a few weeks ago, as he had secured a job in Ireland.

“Since I left, new students have been brought over. And God rest their souls — the two girls who died there. I’m only home a month and — I don’t mean to be bad — but it could have been the friends I know really well. It easily could have been myself.”

Mr Magee, now working in Westmeath, said he did not know either of the deceased but was friends with four students who escaped the blaze.


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