Wednesday 17 January 2018

'I grabbed my children but couldn't take any clothes ... there was no time'

A family who fled the Newbridge inferno that engulfed their home have told how they lost everything in the fire and have only the clothes they are wearing.

Marcin Podmokly and his wife Yola, daughter Alicja (2) and son Oskar (5) lived in one of the properties on the terrace at Millfield Manor, Newbridge that was destroyed in the blaze.

Polish national Mr Podmokly said he was at home with the children while his wife was at work.

"Everything was normal until 4pm," he said.

"I heard a big bang, and I looked in the gardens and I saw the windows from one of the rooms next door lying there, so then I ran to the front and I saw the big living room window broken and a big fire in the room.


"I grabbed my children and my passport and I ran out the door. I could not take clothes or anything. There was no time.

"We waited for the fire brigade to come. My house was not on fire at that stage but when I was leaving the smoke was in the upstairs part.

"The fire then spread quickly through the roofs of the six houses. Three hours later, everything was gone.

"Everything we own is gone. Our clothes, our children's clothes, all our photographs of our wedding and the children. Everything," Mr Podmokly said.

Another resident of the terrace, Wlodzimierz Blanchnio, sympathised with the families who have lost their homes.

"For me I'm a single person with no children so it's not as bad for me but there are many families now homeless," he said.

Mr Blanchnio said he initially didn't believe it when he heard the homes were on fire.

"I thought it was a joke. I came back and saw it burning and so much smoke."

Householders at the estate were left in tears as they watched their homes burn as high winds swept a massive blaze across the six houses on Wednesday.

"The people who lived in them were out on the grass, they were crying as they watched their homes burn. There was nothing they could do. There was nothing anyone could do," a nearby resident Monica Kalova explained.

Kildare's chief fire officer, Celina Barrett was still at the scene yesterday and outlined how the emergency response played out.

"Units from Newbridge and Naas were here within 10 minutes of the alarm being raised, but at that stage one of the houses was fully involved in fire.

"The flames then spread to two neighbouring properties accelerated by the strong winds.

"After 30 minutes the priority changed to stopping the fire spreading to a neighbouring terrace because it was realised that it was impossible to save the six homes that were burning," she explained.

"It was defensive fire-fighting from the outside, and today the crews are putting out the flames that are coming up from the fallen debris," she added.

No one was injured in the incident.

The fire service also contacted the dangerous buildings inspectors in the council to examine the scene.

The remains of the terrace of homes will have to be demolished after gable walls were left leaning outwards.


Local councillor Willie Crowley said the scene resembles a "warzone".

"People were left with the clothes they were standing up in and nothing else.

"It will take them a long time to recover," he said. "It's a tragedy," he said.

Although no one was injured in the blaze the damage was catastrophic, complete destroying all the Millfield Manor homes, The families have been left with absolutely nothing.

The response from the people of Newbridge to the plight of the fire victims has been remarkable.

From all over the town they came to the Ryston Sports and Social Club with donations of clothing, bedding and furniture, and a fund was set up locally to raise finances for the families.

The amount of donated items was so large that teams had to begin sorting them at tables in a hall upstairs.

Young children brought toys knowing they would be needed by others.

At a meeting in the club organised by Cllr Crowley and another Independent local independent representative Cllr Joanne Pender, volunteers were told that seven children are homeless.

Three girls aged 18 months, two and four and four boys aged five, eight, 10 and 11 have been left with nothing.

Local shops and businesses also rallied around with donations of underware, winter clothing and a whole range of toiletries for the victims of the fire.

Anyone wishing to help can do so through the Permanent TSB account which has a BIC code IPBSIE2D and an IBAN number of IE67IPBS99064524172540.


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