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Thursday 19 October 2017

'Second fire brought pain back again', says family of tragic mum

Fire damage at the Verdemont apartments. Photo: Mark Condren
Fire damage at the Verdemont apartments. Photo: Mark Condren

The family of a young mum who died in an apartment fire 15 years ago is demanding answers after another blaze broke out at the same complex.

A coroner's report found a number of fire safety issues at the flat in Verdemont Apartments, Blanchardstown where Louise Wall (22) and her partner Mick Farrell died on March 19, 2002.

It was determined that three out of five air vents were blocked up, smoke alarms were not fitted properly and the fire door in the kitchen was missing a part so was not closing.

Almost 100 people were left homeless this month when a blaze, reportedly started by a barbecue accident, ripped through the complex on May 10.

Suicide

Louise's heartbroken sisters Gillian and Lisa Wall say they need to know if more could have been done to stop it spreading so rapidly.

"You never get over it but you learn to live with it, you have to for each other and to try and live as best we can.

"The recent fire brought it all back again, that fright and pain, it made me remember things I'd blocked out for years," Lisa (42) said.

"I wouldn't like somebody else to go through that, it's pure negligence - if that fire alarm had been connected they'd be alive.

"I wasn't able to cope with these feelings at that time but this fire is after erupting something, there's a lot of anger, I can't help but think it's been 15 years, has anything changed?"

The young couple had been out celebrating St Patrick's Day and in the early hours of the morning a blaze broke out in the kitchen.

As the air vents were blocked, the fire extinguished itself but the heat melted a light fitting and the smoke and carbon monoxide travelled through the property because the fire door in the kitchen was not closing.

Louise was found slumped over the bath while Mick's body was discovered in the bedroom.

They were only found the next evening when Louise's brother Shane came back with her son Dylan (3), who he had been babysitting overnight.

"The apartment was like a tomb that enclosed them, it was completely destroyed there was just soot everywhere," Gillian said.

Apology

"They should have had a safety tick list before people were allowed to live there."

Sadly Shane died by suicide on November 5, 2004.

"He couldn't handle it, he stayed in my house for a while, he couldn't have a bath, he couldn't have the lights off or sleep in darkness, he was never the same," Lisa said.

"He tried a few times to take his own life before he managed to."

The family has never received a formal apology and feels justice has not been served.

"We're angry, to this day nobody had taken responsibility for the death of my sister, the death of Mick Farrell or the death of Shane - and he would be here if it wasn't for what happened," Gillian said.

"Our family would be complete and Dylan wouldn't have had to grow up without a mother."

Gillian also paid tribute to her younger sister, saying: "I used to always call Louise my little angel, she wasn't just an angel to look at but she had a beautiful soul, she was very hard-working, she was an amazing mother, she had such loyalty."

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