One dead after ambulance catches fire outside hospital
A MAN has died after an ambulance went on fire outside the A&E department of Naas General Hospital this afternoon.
The cause of the fire is not known but it has been confirmed that one person has died. The man is believed to have been in his 70s.
Sources at the hospital have said that a male patient in the ambulance was killed and two ambulance crew were injured in what was described as "an explosion in the back of the ambulance".
It is understood one of the ambulance crew received severe burns to the head, face, torso and upper limbs and has been transferred to the specialist burns unit in St James's Hospital in Dublin.
The second ambulance crew member received more minor injuries, including smoke inhalation while trying to assist at the scene.
The closure of the emergency department now means that other hospitals including Portlaoise, Tullamore, St Vincent's and Tallaght will be taking any emergencies that would have been destined for Naas.
While the cause of the fire is not known early suspicions point at an oxygen cylinder or other flammable gas in the back of the emergency vehicle.
Emergency services are at the scene.
The HSE issued a statement this afternoon saying they can confirm an incident at the hospital.
They confirmed that the Emergency Department is now temporarily closed.
Witness Nathan Curtis told Independent.ie; ""I was just passing by and seen the smoke and when we pulled in Kildare Fire Services were there trying to put the fire out.
"The whole A&E department was evacuated. I was just hoping nobody was hurt."
Rob Curtis said: "I heard a load of alarms going off so I went to see what was going on. The old part of the hospital was being evacuated.
"There was a lot of panic and people were running around."
The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has now implemented "appropriate diversion protocols".
This means patients are being taken to alternative hospitals.
The NAS has informed both the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and An Garda Siochana and a full investigation is underway into the incident.
The hospital has asked any member of the public seeking access to medical care to visit their GP in the first instance and if necessary to access another Emergency Department in an alternative hospital.
The hospital has also requested that members of the public refrain from visiting at this time.
James Lawless TD for the area said he extends his condolences to family of the deceased.
“I extend my condolences to the family of the person who has passed away," he said.
"It's an horrific thing to happen and my thoughts go out to the family and to the staff who are continuing to deal with the situation."
More to follow