Fighting fatal fire in Bray ‘was like working on a time bomb’

Firefighter tells trial it ‘looked like a 747 crashing’

Eamonn O’Shaughnessy, brother of firefighter Mark O’Shaughnessy, arriving  at Dublin Circuit Court yesterday. Photograph: Collins/Courts

Eamonn O’Shaughnessy, brother of firefighter Mark O’Shaughnessy, arriving at Dublin Circuit Court yesterday. Photograph: Collins/Courts

 

A Wicklow firefighter 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 (46) and Mark O’Shaughnessy (26) died fighting a blaze at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas on September 2007.

Wicklow County Council, which runs the fire service, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to charges relating to breaches under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, between September 1st, 2005 and September 26th, 2007.

Tony Horan said he was in the first engine that went to 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.

“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. From the moment we got there, it was like working on a time bomb.”

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 he and Mr O’Shaughnessy put on breathing apparatus and went in through this door.

He and another firefighter tried to cut the welded door open using a con-saw. When they finally managed to cut it open, Jim Maguire, who was in charge, began spraying the fire from this door but this was ineffective.

He ran off through the smoke onwards to the other door. When Mr Maguire returned to the metal door, he told the two men to get their breathing apparatus on. He told them: “I’m sorry but you’re going in. Two of them are in the building.”