Students hailed as heroes after blaze rescue

A TOWN plans to honour two young Leaving Certificate students who have been hailed as heroes after they saved two men from a burning building.

Gardaí and firefighters said if it wasn’t for the bravery and quick thinking of pals Cillian Mahon, 17, and Ryane Twomey, 17, two men would almost surely have died in the blaze in a flat in Fermoy on Wednesday night.

Cillian, from Liam MacGearailt Place in Fermoy, and Ryane, from Kilworth, were out celebrating their Leaving Certificate results and were walking on Patrick Street at about 11.30pm when they spotted smoke coming from an open window of a flat above the €2 store.

“We know one of the fellas living in there and we knew something was wrong,” Cillian said.

The friends phoned the emergency services, but decided they couldn’t wait for the fire brigade so they kicked down the door. They triggered the building’s fire alarms before rushing up the stairs, and kicking in a second door.

“It was thick black smoke so we put our jumpers over our mouths,” Cillian said. “I looked into the kitchen and could see a saucepan full of oil was on fire. The counter-top was on fire too. Ryane went looking for people inside and I went towards the kitchen to see if there was a fire blanket or something. But I couldn’t get near enough. Ryane found one of the guys in a bedroom and the other in the sitting room and they were both asleep. I saw him dragging them out so I went over to help. They woke up as they were being dragged out. They were in an awful state of shock.”

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building and extinguished the blaze.

The occupants, Polish national Blazej Kowalczky and his Lithuanian friend, were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

Superintendent Michael Comyns said: “If the two lads had not gone in and woken the men and brought them out, the two men may not have survived.”

Mayor of Fermoy Michael Hanley led tributes to the students last night. “We usually have choice comments to make about some young people. But this is an example of how they can shine out in scenarios like this.”

Video: Cillian Mahon and Ryane Twomey talk to the Irish Examiner about their experience (click to view)


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