Man battled to save elderly father from fire, inquest hears

Sonny Murphy (85) suffered extensive burns during blaze at his Co Dublin home

The son of a pensioner who arrived to find their home on fire desperately tried to save his father but was overcome by smoke, an inquest has heard.

Dermot Murphy lived at Monaloe Crescent, Blackrock, Co Dublin with his 85-year-old father, Sonny Murphy.

He arrived home on November 24th, 2015 to find the sitting room on fire.

“All I could see was smoke and fire and flames coming from the couch. I couldn’t see my dad,” Dermot Murphy said. He entered the house and reached the hallway before he was forced back by fumes.


“It started getting into my eyes and I started to choke. I saw the Jack Russell run out the door and I followed him,” he said.

Sonny Murphy, a former Dublin City Council employee, was described as strong and in good health. He had given up smoking 15 years previously, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

He drank two pints with friends in the Magic Carpet pub that day before returning home at about 5.45pm.

‘Good form’

"He was always in good form and no different that day," witness Anthony Clarke said.

Gardaí found the seat of the couch was on fire but found no igniting source.

“Sometimes the source of a fire is consumed by the fire,” Det Sgt Thomas Carey said.

Gardaí found no evidence of foul play. However, it was noted that the body moved from the couch to the floor during the fire.

Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher questioned how this might have happened but the circumstances revealed no answer.

Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis reported extensive burns to the body but no carbon monoxide in the lungs. Dr Curtis found extensive coronary heart disease and gave the cause of death as a heart attack that occurred around the time of the fire.

“He may have had a sudden event, perhaps with a match in his hand . . . We just can’t explain how he ended up on the floor. But we do know from the medical evidence that he was deceased before this fire took hold,” Dr Gallagher said.

The coroner returned an open verdict noting that while gardaí found nothing suspicious at the scene, there were unanswered questions about the circumstances.