Belfast Telegraph

Tanker man battled crash fire by using milk to douse flames

A quick-thinking milk tanker driver has been hailed as a hero after saving the lives of two young men by extinguishing a fire with milk.

Michael Coyle (46) sprang into action after a car was in collision with his milk tanker on the brow of a hill on the Derrylin Road near Enniskillen on Sunday afternoon and burst into flames.

The pair were trapped inside — but quick-thinking Mr Coyle put out the fire by attaching a pipe to his tanker and spraying the blazing wreckage with milk after his first attempts to tackle the blaze with a fire extinguisher failed.

Help arrived at the scene quickly but it took firefighters almost two hours using heavy hydraulic equipment to cut free the two men — both believed to be from Co Cavan — from the vehicle.

Enniskillen Fire Service commander Martin Jeffrey, who led a team of 15 firefighters in the rescue operation, said: “It was down to the driver’s actions that the two men were saved, as we had to come from Enniskillen — which is between 10 and 12 minutes away from the crash — so the fire would have grown.” He said the rescue effort was hampered because the passenger and driver compartments had been severely damaged.

But he praised the efforts of firefighters to save the two men. The crash victims were transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where one is said to be in a critical condition while the other passenger’s condition remains serious.

“They were as heavily trapped as I have ever seen in all my 28 years in the Fire Service,” he added. Mr Coyle, from Douglas Bridge, Newtonstewart, was too shaken to speak after the incident but haulier Tony Gallagher spoke about the heroic actions of his employee.

He said Mr Coyle, who was driving the milk tanker to the Killeshandra depot of Lakeland Dairies, was a dedicated worker and praised his quick thinking to save the lives of the two young men.

Police have asked anyone who was in the area on Sunday afternoon prior to 12.45pm to contact them on 0845 600 8000.

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