Belfast Telegraph

Mum relives gas explosion horror

The mother of one of four 12 year old boys injured an explosion behind a large vacated shop unit in the Rathcoole area last week, has spoken of the terrifying moment she heard the cries of her child.



On the afternoon of Wednesday August 10, a group of children broke in and lit a fire beside the abandoned Gildea Home & Garden Store on Barna Square. One of the group threw a small canister they had retrieved from the disused hardware store on to the fire. It exploded, burning four of the children’s faces and necks.

The mother, who doesn’t want to be identified, said: “I panicked and was in a state of shock when I heard what happened.

“He had ran around to my friend’s home and she contacted me. We rushed them straight to hospital.

“His forehead was burned badly but it was a shock for him when he saw the burns on the face of one of his wee friends while he was in hospital — he kept breaking down after he saw him.

“Two of the young boys were admitted into the hospital overnight because their burns were more serious.”

She continued: “My son has been very quiet since. I still don’t know who lit the fire or who threw on the gas canister – he won’t say. I think he is still in trauma about it all.

“He told me he will never ever do this again though. He said if he ever catches another child starting a fire that he will warn them against it.

“What happened last week will warn others not to attempt to light fires. Unfortunately so many kids think it’s a great laugh — they don’t understand how dangerous it is. We are very lucky that none of them died last week.”

She added: “I do think it’s an outrage that the old shop unit hasn’t been emptied of all the stock — them canisters shouldn’t have been left there. Kids run in and out of that building — no matter what you say or how much you tell them not to.”

Local resident and PUP spokesman, Philip Hamilton said the explosion had “horrified” the local community.

He said: “I know some of the children who were injured and it’s a miracle they weren’t killed.

“This building has been derelict for two years and has been a problem as a result — it’s been broken into so many times.

“The building has been secured well in the past, the problem is because it’s derelict it’s an attraction for some young people and they continue to find ways to break into it. Other children who see it open then just go in to |explore.

“Everytime it is secured, within weeks it’s broken into, kids can also access the site when the service gates for the other shops are opened. Others are small enough to slip through the railings. Since this has happened though it is my understanding that there have been no more incidents of children using this building to play in — I think the message of its dangers has gotten through.

“I’ve spoke to quite a few people living in the area following this and they are in shock about what happened. To have happened during the middle of the afternoon has really horrified the community.”

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