Belfast Telegraph

Homeless man 'Jimmy' thanks teens who saved him after he caught fire

By Donna Deeney

A homeless man found on fire in the centre of Londonderry has thanked the good Samaritans who came to his aid.

Two teenagers noticed smoke billowing from Jimmy Brolly's jeans and immediately ran to help him.

Jimmy is well-known and cared for by Derry people, who were shocked to hear what had happened.

Initially, it was believed that someone had played a cruel prank on him by setting fire to his trousers as he slept.

However, the PSNI reviewed CCTV footage of the incident on Sunday and officers said they were satisfied that the fire was accidental.

"There was no third party involvement and no crime was committed against this man," a spokesman said.

Jimmy - who is originally from Ayrshire in Scotland - is now being cared for at Damien House, a crisis centre for people who are alcohol dependent.

From there, he told the Belfast Telegraph he was thankful his injuries were not as bad as they might have been.

He said: "I was up at the bus depot on Foyle Street where I like to go and sit because there is a bit of shelter there.

"I just woke up around 7pm and went to cross the street when these two girls shouted over to me, 'Mister, you are on fire'.

"I didn't realise that I was on fire because I had two pairs of jeans on me, but then I looked down and the smoke was everywhere.

"I am grateful to the wee girls that came to help. There were other people too who helped me, and if it wasn't for them I could have been badly hurt."

The two young women who helped Jimmy were Nicole Wilson (17) from the Creggan and her friend, Louise Sweeney (18), also from Derry.

The quick-thinking duo poured a soft drink over the flames before a man ran out of a pub with pints of water to douse Jimmy's burning legs.

"We rushed over and all we had was a tiny bit of Lucozade Sport, and my friend poured it over his leg," Nicole told the Belfast Telegraph after the incident.

"It was really scary - he was just standing there on fire, not aware of it."

One man brought Jimmy two pairs of trousers as replacements, while staff at Damien House in Derry immediately offered him shelter.

Gerry Burns, manager of the centre, said: "Jimmy is receiving full medical attention for his wounds and will remain at Damien House for as long as he feels like it."

Belfast Telegraph


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