No blaze when I left, welder tells inquest into fire deaths
A WELDER who carried out works at a disused factory in Bray shortly before it caught fire said there was "absolutely" no fire when he finished the job and he would go to his grave saying that.
Aidan O'Neill was giving evidence at Dublin Coroner's Court at the combined inquest into the deaths of Bray firefighters Mark O'Shaughnessy (25) and 46-year-old Brian Murray, a father of 15.
They died fighting a fire at a disused ink factory at Adelaide Villas off the Dargle Road in Bray on September 26, 2007.
Last month, Wicklow County Council was fined €355,000 for health and safety violations in relation to the incident.
Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Mr O'Neill, a metal fabricator from Bray, had been asked by his friend Garreth Nolan to weld shut the main factory door because people had been dumping rubbish in the premises.
Mr Nolan told the court that his aunt, who owned the factory, had asked him to seal the door after he had noticed rubbish, piled five feet high in the building, ten days before.
When asked if he saw cans of fire accelerant in the rubbish, Mr Nolan said that he had not.
The two men went to the building to carry out the welding works at 10am on the morning of the fire.
No metal sheet was used to prevent sparks escaping while the welding took place, Mr Nolan told the court.
Mr O'Neill said 90pc of the welding carried out happened on the outside of the building.
He said that when he finished inside he looked around to check and "absolutely nothing" was on fire.
"There was no fire at that stage. I will go to my grave saying it. Absolutely not," Mr O'Neill said.
When he checked the work from outside once completely finished, he said, there was no smell or smoke.
The inquest also heard from Eamon O'Shaughnessy who identified the body of his brother Mark.
Mr O'Shaughnessy said Mark had written a note detailing problems that he had identified with Bray Fire Service prior to his death.
"These problems made Mark's job difficult," he said.