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Thursday 25 May 2017

Student who rescued toddler from blaze left looking for new home

Firefighters tackle the fire on Mountjoy Square
Firefighters tackle the fire on Mountjoy Square

A heroic Dubliner who rescued a toddler from a house fire has been left searching for a new home.

Tommy Lawler (42) was living in a flat on Mountjoy Square when a blaze broke out, destroying many apartments.

Mr Lawler, who lived on the ground floor, was able to escape through his back window and then rescued the little girl using an abandoned couch.

The fire broke out in the basement of an apartment building on February 23 and quickly spread to three other buildings.

Eight people had to be rescued by fire crews.

Mr Lawler, who managed to escape shortly after the blaze started, told his story to Joe Duffy on RTE's Liveline yesterday.

On the morning of the fire, which broke out at 7am, he was preparing his lunch for the day.

"The alarm went off. I smelled something - I thought it might have been smoke - and when I opened the door a rush of smoke came in," he said.

Screaming

"I grabbed my coat, my wallet, my passport and my phone and I left through the back window.

"My flat was on the ground floor at the back of the building so it was easy for me to get out.

"I got on the phone straight away, ringing the fire brigade and then I heard screaming.

"There was a couple in the flat above mine screaming 'help us, help us we can't get out and we have a child with us'."

Thinking on his feet, Mr Lawler used a discarded couch as a makeshift ladder to reach the window, where a couple and their little girl were trying to escape.

The couch was unsteady when he reached the window.

"The mother and father dropped the child into my arms straight away," he said.

After some manoeuvring with the toddler, who was beginning to panic, Mr Lawler managed to take her down safely.

"Out of the other buildings a couple came out and I handed the baby to the woman and said 'get her out of here quick'," he said.

He and the baby's dad, who had climbed out of the window, were then able to help the baby's mum. They then escaped to safety through one of the adjoining buildings.

All of Mr Lawler's belongings were destroyed in the fire.

Inquiry

"The place was destroyed... everything was gone either destroyed by fire, smoke or water," he said.

Mr Lawler, who is a mature student, is now struggling to find a new house and is staying with his sister.

The rental crisis means he is competing with too many other house-hunters for any place he views, he said.

Following the fire, the Green Party called for an inquiry into the safety of buildings on Mountjoy Square after it emerged the blaze in No 1 and No 2 was a near carbon-copy of a similar fire 10 years ago in which 35 people were rescued from the same buildings in similar circumstances.

Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe said: "We need to ensure that all landlords are fully aware of, and compliant with, their statutory responsibilities.

"Local residents have raised concerns about the condition of similar buildings in the past.

"I want be reassured by city council officials that they have responded appropriately to these concerns."

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