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horrified Family of 'good Samaritan' killed in house fire shocked to learn front door was blocked

Relatives of Derek Mangan said evidence indicated anyone trying to flee the blaze could have got stuck as the owner of the house needed a claw hammer to open front door

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Linda Mangan, Elaine Mangan, and Sinead Mangan, daughters of the late Derek Mangan pictured leaving Dublin County Coroner's Court

Linda Mangan, Elaine Mangan, and Sinead Mangan, daughters of the late Derek Mangan pictured leaving Dublin County Coroner's Court

Linda Mangan, Elaine Mangan, and Sinead Mangan, daughters of the late Derek Mangan pictured leaving Dublin County Coroner's Court

The family of a Dublin grandfather and “good Samaritan” who was killed in a house fire while visiting a friend last year has expressed shock to learn that the front door of the property did not open freely to facilitate an escape from the premises.

Relatives of Derek Mangan (72) of Benmadigan Road, Drimnagh said evidence at an inquest indicated that anyone trying to flee the blaze could have got stuck as the owner of the house needed a claw hammer to open the front door.

The dead man’s daughter, Sinead Mangan, said it was upsetting to discover there was an obstacle to getting out of the property by the main exit.

“We’re horrified. It’s the concern that if he had wanted to get out of the house, he could have been trapped,” said Ms Mangan.

Mr Mangan and his friend, Joe Muldowney (69), both died in the fire which broke out in Mr Muldowney’s home at Lansdowne Valley, Drimnagh at around lunch time on May 23, 2020.

A sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court on Monday heard Mr Mangan, a retired roofer and father of five, had gone to visit his friend, a single man, out of concern he was always on his own, despite the dilapidated nature of the property.

A forensic crime scene investigator, Sergeant John Schley, said the most likely cause of the fire was a lit cigarette at the back of a couch.

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A family photo of the late Derek Mangan

A family photo of the late Derek Mangan

A family photo of the late Derek Mangan

 

Sgt Schley said a nearby curtain as well as paper and clothing on the couch had probably also ignited.

He told the inquest it was likely that the couch had been smouldering for quite some time before flames broke out.

Sgt Schley said he was satisfied the fire was accidental and there was no sign of an electrical fault, use of an accelerant or involvement of a third party.

The inquest heard there was no smoke alarm in the property.

The two bodies were found in the living room but Sgt Schley said he was unable to say if either man had tried to get out of the cottage.

Ann Muldowney, a niece of the victim, said she and her mother had visited her uncle the previous night to check how he was doing as he had only moved into the property two weeks earlier.

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The inquest heard that her uncle, who was a heavy drinker and smoker, was in good form and had had a few cans of beer.

She said the front door to the property was very heavy and difficult to open and her uncle had to use a clawhammer to pull it open.

Another of Mr Mangan’s daughters, Elaine said she had gone around to Mr Muldowney’s house at around 10.30am that morning to check on her father and found his keys in his car outside the cottage and taken them herself.

She then called to the door which was answered by Mr Muldowney but she could hear her father inside and told him to ring her when he wanted a lift home.

Ms Mangan said she had no concerns at the time as her father was in the habit of calling in on his friends with food during the lockdown.

Fighting back tears, she remarked: “He was brilliant. I just miss him,”

The inquest heard Mr Mangan was a keen fisherman who loved to play the spoons.

“Everyone knew him in Drimnagh,” his daughter recalled.

A woman visiting her grandmother told the inquest she spotted hazy black, strong-smelling smoke coming from the cottage and alerted the emergency services.

Sarah Burns said had banged on the front door but got no answer before looking in the front window but she “couldn’t see a thing” because of the thick smoke.

Ms Burns said she heard lots of cracking noises from inside the property but did not hear any voices.

A post-mortem on Mr Mangan’s body revealed he died from soot and smoke inhalation with burns and coronary heart disease contributory factors.

A post-mortem on Mr Muldowney found he had also died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The coroner, Clare Keane, said alcohol consumed by Mr Muldowney may have affected his ability to escape.

Expressing sympathy to both families on such a devastating loss in tragic circumstances, Dr Keane returned a verdict of accidental death in both cases.

Speaking after the inquest, Sinead Mangan said her father had been a great friend to lots of people during the lockdown and acted as a “protector”.

Despite the surprise at discovering he was suffering from serious heart disease, Ms Mangan remarked: “He was flying and in the form of his life. Lockdown suited him.”

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