A fire fighter for the Wicklow fire services has said fighting a fatal fire in Bray was like working on a time bomb and said it looked like a plane had crashed.
Brian Murray (aged 46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (aged 26) died fighting a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas in Bray on September 26, 2007.
Wicklow County Council, which runs the fire service, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges relating to alleged criminal breaches under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, between September 1, 2005 and September 26, 2007.
Tony Horan said he was in the first engine that went to the scene of the fire. He told Alex Owens SC, prosecuting, that there was silence in the fire engine as they crossed the Dargle river and saw the smoke ahead.
He said: “It looked like a black wall. It looked like a 747 crashing if you can imagine that. That's what I was looking at.
“The smoke was almost like it was alive. It was going high and then going back to the ground. Going across the bridge there was silence”.
He said: “From the moment we got there it was like working on a time bomb. People were screaming and shouting telling us their houses were filling with smoke”.
He said he had trouble finding the fire engine at one point in the smoke and that visibility was reduced to about two feet.
He said that Mr Murray began trying to fight the fire by spraying an air foam mix through the main door.
He said that Mr Murray and Mr O'Shaughnessy put on a breathing apparatus and went in though this door.
He said he heard fire fighter Jim Maguire, who was in charge, tell them a number of times “just inside the door”. He and another fire fighter then began trying to cut the welded door open using a con-saw.
He said they had to find a blade for the saw and then a tool to tighten the blade. When they finally managed to cut the welded door open Mr Maguire began spraying the fire from this door but he said this proved ineffective.
He said Mr Maguire then radioed Mr Murray twice but did not get an answer. He said he ran off through the smoke onwards to the other door.
When he returned to the metal door he told the two men to get their breathing apparatus on. The witness said Mr Maguire told them: “I'm sorry but you're going in. Two of them are in the building.”
The trial continues before Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of seven men and four women.