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Ciara Hayes in her home at Oak Park, Ennis, where she was saved from a fire. Photograph by John Kelly.

Ennis woman ‘minutes from death’ in house fire

AN Ennis woman was just minutes from death after her home in Oak Park caught on fire on the day of her birthday last week.
Ciara Hayes’ life was saved when she was woken in her smoke-filled home by neighbours desperately banging on her front door and trying to get to her.
She describes herself as “very, very lucky” as she thanks her neighbours for helping her to escape.
It is believed that the fire was started by a candle which had been left lit overnight, and following her frightening experience Ciara is warning others to ensure all candles are extinguished properly.
Ciara is now back at work in her hairdressing and beauty business Trifecta after spending two days in hospital receiving treatment.
“The fire started on May 4, My cat died two weeks ago and I had lit a candle the night before beside her picture. It was one of those safety candles in the container. Normally I would have blown it out, but obviously I forgot it and fell asleep.
“I was fast asleep and woke up to banging at my door and screaming outside, it was my neighbours Lorna and Steve Langenkamp.
“They had heard my smoke alarm, but I couldn’t hear it there was so much smoke and it was keeping me half unconscious.
“When I came to, my room was pitch black, I couldn’t see anything. I had to make my own way out of the house because they couldn’t get in, they tried but the smoke was so thick and strong.
“Lorna wouldn’t leave the door as I was walking down the stairs trying to get out. It was so dark it was like midnight and the smoke made me feel like I wanted to lie down on the stairs, but they kept banging on the door.
“It was very scary. I know how close I was, I knew by the feeling even because I couldn’t breathe.
“When I was coming down the stairs my mind and my body was telling me to go for air, so I went to the window first. But I had to tell myself keep going down the stairs, keep going, keep going. Lorna kept shouting you have to get out Ciara, you have to get out.”
The neighbours rang the fire brigade and builders who had been working across the road also rushed to help but couldn’t get inside the house. Amazingly, Ciara’s brother was one of the firemen to arrive at the scene.
“I was just out two minutes when the firemen were there. My brother’s a fireman and he got the call.
“He must have got an awful fright because on the call it was said that they couldn’t get me out. He didn’t know whether I had got out when they came, it was very scary for him.”
Ciara was taken to hospital for treatment and was told that there was carbon monoxide in her blood “They literally told me five or ten more minutes in there and I would have been dead.”
The blaze caused extensive smoke damage to her home. “I had just done up the dining room and it’s destroyed, there is a lot of smoke damage. I’ve to put new carpets down, a window is broken and there are cracks, I’ve to get new flooring, new bed, everything.”
She says her family have been “amazing” since the fire, helping to wash down her home and repaint it with hopes that she will be able to return for the weekend.
Ciara is on medication for inflammation of the lung, however on Monday she joined the country’s hairdressers in getting back to work at Trifecta.
“We were off for so long and you’d miss the people and chatting to the clients. The clients have been lovely and the staff have been great at helping me out so I’m very lucky to have them.”
She is urging people to make sure any lit candles are not left unattended and are extinguished properly.
“It was literally five minutes of a difference between me being here and not, and all because I lit a candle. So people should check the house and make sure they always blow them out properly.”

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