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Thursday 21 June 2018

'It was horrific, I will never forget fear in son's eyes' - mum (30) on flat blaze ordeal

Gardai at the scene at Tyrone Place in Inchicore where Maggie Green and her young children were left in comas after an arson attack
Gardai at the scene at Tyrone Place in Inchicore where Maggie Green and her young children were left in comas after an arson attack

A Dublin mother-of-three has described the harrowing moment she tried to save her young children after a fire engulfed their flat, saying: "I thought my child was going to be burned to ashes."

Maggie Green (30) was in her rented apartment in Inchicore, Co Dublin, with her three children when their home was targeted in a suspected arson attack on September 18, 2017.

Maggie and her children John (13), Francie (9) and Savannah (7) were left fighting for their lives after the attack.

The traumatised mother spoke to Independent.ie about the fateful moment she woke up to discover her home engulfed in flames.

"I woke up suddenly and I looked over the banister and saw the flames at the end of the stairs. My oldest son, John, was sleeping downstairs and I screamed for him. The fire had engulfed the front door so we couldn't escape.

"I couldn't get down the stairs to John and he couldn't get up the stairs to me because of the flames. It was horrific. I'll never forget the fear in his eyes," she said.

"I told John to run out to the balcony window and breathe in some fresh air. He disappeared and I waited without knowing if my child was going to be burned to ashes."

Maggie said that she ran back to the bedrooms to get her two younger children.

"Francie tried to run downstairs and I had to keep him back. I told him to stay in his room while I grabbed Savannah in her room but he was terrified. He said, 'Mummy, I'm going to die, I love you. I'm going to granda in heaven'."

Maggie said that she grabbed both children and went into a bedroom where she tried to break open a window.

"We were completely trapped. I went into the corner of the room and built a fort with the beds around the three of us. The fire burned through and I thought that was the end of it," she said.

"The fire brigade arrived and I handed them over Savannah and Francie. I asked them about John and they said they couldn't find anyone else in the house. At that moment, my whole body gave up. I couldn't go on at the thought that something had happened to John."

Coma

One month later, Maggie woke up in hospital after being in a coma.

"My ma was waiting at my bed when I woke up and all I wanted to know was if my kids were alive. My ma said they were all OK and that she would have turned off my life-support machine if they weren't.

"I had burns all over my body and had to undergo numerous skin grafts. Savannah and Francie had spent two weeks in a coma and had burns on their arms and legs.

"John had managed to escape from the balcony after our neighbour rescued him with a ladder and he was treated for smoke inhalation. I was so happy to hear that all of my children were OK."

Maggie said that her children were still traumatised after the fire.

"Savannah slept through the fire because she passed out from smoke inhalation, but Francie remembers it all.

"Since I got out of hospital at the end of October, myself and my three kids have been living with my mum and my brother in a two-bedroom house.

"We can't continue to live like this. There are too many people living here and my mum's landlord said it is a fire hazard having us all here."

Maggie said she contacted Dublin City Council before Christmas looking for an update on a house and was told she would be settled within weeks.

"I was told I'd have Christmas in a new house and I'm still waiting. I checked again with them and they said it'll be another few weeks.

"I don't think they'll ever give me a home. All my kids want is a home.

"Savannah prays to God every night that he'll give mummy a home. They're constantly asking when they will have their own bed again. Their whole life was destroyed in the fire and their comfort is gone. My heart breaks for them.

Scarred

"Savannah is due to make her communion this year and she won't wear the dress we had picked out because it is short sleeves and her arms are scarred with burns. We're struggling to find a dress with long sleeves.

"Even after everything we went through with the fire in the flat, we'd still rather move back in there than be stuck here in my ma's house. The flat is still destroyed and there doesn't look to be any clean-up going on."

Despite no longer living in the burnt-out home, Maggie claims that Dublin City Council is continuing to deduct rent from her social welfare payments.

"Money has continued to come out of my social welfare for the rent," she added.

"Even when I was lying half-dead in a coma, rent was still coming out of my money.

"My oldest son, John, is sleeping on a settee. We can't go on like this."

Maggie said that she moved into the council flat in Inchicore in 2010 and noticed a series of problems with the rental.

"I was always asking the council for a fire-proof door but I never got one. My door was wooden and was very old.

"My fire alarm also had wires sticking out and it wasn't working.

"I asked the council to fix it and they came round to check it and said they would be back, but they never were. Both of those things would have prevented the fire."

Four months on from the blaze, Maggie said that no one had been charged with starting the fire. It's believed that a petrol bomb was put through her letterbox.

"I have no idea why anybody would have done that. I don't have any enemies," she said.

Investigation

Gardai confirmed to Independent.ie that the fire was being treated as an arson attack and that investigations were ongoing.

Maggie says that all her family wants is a home.

"Our burns can heal and we can get over how traumatising the fire was.

"All we want is a home of our own so we can start to rebuild our lives," she said.

The Herald contacted Dublin City Council for a statement, but it said it did not comment on individual cases.

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