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The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Afternoon Show Fire Alarm Saves Lives!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Sorcha, can you tell me again what happened?

We heard the alarm going off in the early hours of Sunday, 24th January.

Eoin got out of bed, I was actually lucky that Eoin was there, I would have probably ignored the alarm myself, because alarms have gone off before in the apartment block and I have ignored them.

Eoin came into the bedroom and shouted at me to get out - it all happened very quickly, we went into Cillian's bedroom and grabbed him and brought him out with us.. Cillian was wearing pyjamas and we only had a blanket for him to keep him warm; I didn't get a blanket until the ambulance arrived later.

The fire started in the sitting room and we were fortunate because we did not have to go through the sitting room to get out of the apartment. The curtains and the couch had caught fire and there was a lot of smoke when we were leaving.

Then guards got there after about 15 minutes. There is no full time fire service so the firemen had to leave their own homes and they got to us a bit later, about 5 minutes or so after the guards had got there.

You said that it was fortunate that Eoin, your partner, (and Cillian's dad) was there with you that night because he had keys to get out of the apartment block?
Yes, to get out of the apartment you need keys and I had left my keys in the sitting room which was the room that went on fire, I also had left my mobile there and I would not have been able to call anybody so Eoin had his keys etc and he also had his mobile

How did the fire start?
They have told us that the fire started from the storage heater. I never thought that a fire could be started by the storage heater. There must have been some problem with it. Some of the residents in the apartment are now worried because of how the fire started with the storage heaters..

You only had the fire alarm installed for one week before the fire?
Yes, I had the alarm (which I got from through the Afternoon Show) installed for a while before, but Cillian (her son) thought that it was a toy and he kept pressing and it went off, so I took the battery out of the alarm. I only the put the alarm back in over a week before the fire

Was it traumatic for Cillian when the fire brigade and also since the fire?
Cillian actually loves trucks and he loves Fireman Sam so he really enjoyed it when the fire trucks were outside the apartment and he had great fun. He is only 17 months and he can't really talk, but he knows that something is wrong and we know that he has been looking for his toys, so that has been hard.

Cillian's toys and personal items have been damaged?
Yes, his toys were all damaged and they have been lost in the fire. We have also lost all his toys that he got on his first birthday and all the picture that we had of Cillian when he was born.. They have all been destroyed.

Things that are irreplaceable?
Yes, you really can't replace these things and that is very sad and unfortunate.. My mother had to go into town and buy cloths for Cillian because they have all been destroyed.. He didn't have anything, all he had was the blankets and the Pyjamas that he had when he came from the apartment on that night.

How was it for you?
Well I was in shock straight after the fire. The firemen had to evacuate everybody in the apartment block and were out on the street. Eoin actually had to go back into the apartment because he only had a pair of boxer shorts on and he had to get some cloths. It has been hard since then.

You have to replace the bare essentials?
Yes, I had to go into town with my mother and we have to buy bottle formula food and new kind cloths/shoes for Cillian because all his things were destroyed. It is difficult because children's shoes and cloths then to be expensive that that has been a worry for us as well.

Did you ever not have an alarm before, why not?
I did live in student accommodation before in Galway and I don't think that that had an alarm, and this has really changed my outlook on fire alarms and also on how fires can start so quickly and I wouldn't live anywhere without a fire alarm now.

Have you been back in the apartment since the damage, and if so, was that emotional?
Yes, I was back there recently and when I went into Cillian's room I burst out crying. I started crying because I just thought of what could have happened and what could have happened to myself, Cillian and Eoin if we had no fire alarm installed.

Is anything is the apartment able to be saved?
No, the only things that I think which can be saved are perhaps some of the cloths. Some of the cloths are covered in smoke and they will have to be washed. But everything else, the utensils, and all of our other personal stuff and Cillian's toys has been destroyed..

Are you insured?
No, I am not insured and I should have really taken out insurance. I am only 21 and I thought I wouldn't need personal liability insurance so I am not covered for the damage. I also thought that insurance was expensive and that it would be like car insurance, but I was told that it would only cost €90 for the year to get insured.

Do you feel that you are lucky?
People keep telling me that I am lucky, but I don't see it like that, I just can't think of it like that at the moment. all I can think of at the moment is what has been lost and the damage that has been done to the house.. I was also recently in a car accident and my car was a write off, and I have lost my car my apartment as well. We also only had moved into the apartment last April, we were renting the apartment

What is your future plans with the house?
At the moment myself and Cillian are staying with my mother and we have no plans to move back into the apartment - we can't really because it (the apartment) has to be gutted as a result of the fire damage..