Parents of young children caught in suspected fuel explosion holding vigil at hospital bedsides
Three children injured in a suspected fuel explosion are now in a stable condition and expected to make full recoveries.
Parents Majella Collins and Mark Hegarty are maintaining a vigil by the Cork University Hospital (CUH) bedsides of their five-month-old twins and their 18-month-old sibling.
The three children suffered serious burns after it is suspected a fuel container exploded at the family's home outside Drinagh in west Cork shortly after 6pm on Tuesday evening.
The youngsters, who were playing nearby, were covered by a spray of burning fuel.
Walls and a couch in the property were also damaged in the fire.
The emergency services were immediately contacted by the distraught parents.
Such were the serious burns sustained by the toddlers that they were airlifted from a field opposite the family home to CUH by the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter.
Doctors were able to stabilise the condition of the three children. Two are now making an excellent recovery and are expected to be discharged from hospital in days.
One of the five month old twins, who suffered the most serious burns, is also responding well to treatment.
However, the child is expected to remain in hospital for several weeks for ongoing treatment which could include skin grafts.
Locals paid tribute to neighbours, the Gardaí, Skibbereen fire brigade personnel and the Irish Coast Guard for the remarkable speed of the rescue operation.
"Thank God the children are doing well. There's great credit due everyone who helped out there on Tuesday night," one Drinagh resident said.
A match was being played on Drinagh sportsfield but club officials offered to abandon the game so the helicopter could use the field as a landing strip.
However, a field near the family home was chosen as a preferable landing spot given the speedier hospital transfer it offered.
Gardai and technical experts sealed off the fire scene in a bid to determine the precise sequence of events that led to the accidental explosion.
One theory is that petrol vapour may have accidentally ignited and triggered the explosion of the fuel container.