Cigarette may have led to blast that killed ambulance patient
A pensioner was killed when an explosion caused an ambulance to catch fire outside a busy Irish hospital's emergency department.
Christopher Burn (79) died and paramedics Steven Lloyd and Dave Finnegan were injured following the fatal fire at Naas General Hospital, Co Kildare shortly after 1.30pm yesterday.
It is believed that Mr Burn may have tried to light a cigarette while in the ambulance, unbeknown to staff.
Mr Finnegan, who is aged in his 40s, and Mr Lloyd, aged in his late 30s, were in the vehicle preparing to move the patient into the ED.
However, as the elderly patient was being tended to, an explosion occurred.
The force of the explosion was so severe that Mr Lloyd was thrown across the tarmac, having left the drivers seat to open the ambulance side door. Two Naas-based paramedics who witnessed the incident ran towards the burning ambulance and pulled Mr Finnegan out, who was on fire. However, sources stated that there was tragically nothing that could be done for Mr Burn.
Mr Finnegan was treated for burns but was discharged last night. Mr Lloyd was kept in St James' Hospital as a matter of precaution. He is expected to make a full recovery.
It is believed that an oxygen tank exploded, and the Health Service Executive has said that checks will be put in place immediately to guarantee a similar incident doesn't happen again.
Health Minister Simon Harris expressed his sympathies to Mr Burn's family last night.
"I was numb when I heard about this terrible tragedy," he said.
"I visited the hospital to extend my sympathies to the family on the death of their loved one."