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Stardust fire ‘at or past peak’ when crews arrived


An expert witness has told the Stardust inquests that a fire was probably “at or past its peak” when the first Dublin Fire Brigade crew arrived on the scene.

Mark Ross, a former member of the London Fire Brigade for over 25 years, was giving evidence today at the Dublin District Coroner’s Court.

Forty-eight people died in the 1981 disaster in the Artane nightclub

A senior fire investigator, he has been retained by the coroner to review the emergency services’ response to the fire and whether some of the dead might have been saved by different actions taken on or before the night of the blaze.

The court heard that the first 999 call reporting the fire was received at 1.43am at Tara St HQ, and that two appliances were immediately mobilised.

The jury was told that first crew arrived on the scene in Artane at 1.50am with five appliances following in the minutes after.

In court today, Mr Ross said the fire was “probably at or past its peak” when the first fire crew arrived as at that stage it was venting out of the roof.

He said the scene on arrival facing the crews would have been “chaotic”.

Pointing to the number of patrons present, he said they would have been “desperate for help” and in a state of panic.

‘Significant incident’

He said the fire brigade would have been relying heavily on the gardaí to assist in crowd control.

He also said there were reports of people being held back, being prevented from re-entering the building.

He said when the fire brigade first arrived, the firefighters would have known that it they were dealing with something “major” and a “significant incident”.

The jury heard that within minutes, hoses were deployed at the exits of the building and that the brigade had “good coverage of the building” with the appliances “well placed” to deal with the incident.

Mr Ross also told the court that there was a deployment of firemen on approach to the club to the link up to hydrants. In court today, he described that as a “shrewd move”.

He also said the brigade on arrival were faced with a need to quickly deploy firefighters to carry out rescues and went on to detail the rescues that were conducted from the club’s toilets.

He said it would appear that at an early stage, the fire brigade was unaware that there were people in the north alcove seating area.

He said eight victims were recovered from that area and said that no rescues were affected from there.

He also said that 23 minutes after the arrival of the first crew, the officer in charge ordered a methodical search be carried out of the premises, saying at that point they probably thought they rescued all the live casualties, and it was time to consider there might not be anyone else alive.

The inquests continue


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