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The 48 victims of the Stardust fire. The Journal
Rotunda Hospital

Stardust jury reminded of 'inferno' that developed at nightclub fire before deliberations

One firefighter had told the inquiry previously that the fire was the worst he had seen in his 15-year career.

THE JURY IN the inquest into the deaths of the 48 people who lost their lives in the Stardust fire have been reminded that responding firefighters described being faced with “an inferno”.

As the coroner’s summary of the evidence continued in Dublin District Coroner’s Court,  Dr Myra Cullinane today told the jury they had given evidence that the first fire engine arrived at the Stardust nightclub in Artane at 1.50am on 14 February 1981.

The first engine arrived around an hour before the fire was brought under control. Dr Cullinane said that one firefighter had given evidence that in his 15 years’ experience, the Stardust fire was the worst tragedy he had ever encountered.

She said that another firefighter had described seeing “an inferno” at exit door four, while another had said that the roof of the building was gone and flames were coming through.

Dr Cullinane said that evidence had been heard that the fire was completely out of control prior to the arrival of the firefighters, with the inside of the building appearing to be fairly evenly burned, and it was 2.54am before the fire was completely brought under control.

Dr Cullinane reminded the jury that they had heard evidence that many of the deceased were found concentrated around exit door five and the centre of the dancefloor and the evidence of an assistant station officer had outlined that the only persons capable of being rescued were those in sheltered areas of the nightclub, such as the toilets.

Among the summarised evidence of the first responders was that of third officer William McQuaid.

Dr Cullinane reminded the jury that McQuaid had described the blaze as “a rapid fire”, and she said that in his evidence he had stated that the fire spread more rapidly than a normal fire and must have been of “a terrific temperature” to cause the ceiling to collapse.

Dr Cullinane also summarised the evidence of An Garda Síochána, which included accounts of injured people being brought to hospital in garda cars.

She also referenced the evidence of Detective Superintendent John Courtney, who oversaw the investigation into the fire.

89 gardai were involved in this investigation and 1,649 witness statements were taken, and Dr Cullinane said that Courtney had stated that no evidence came to light to indicate that the fire was malicious.

The inquest, which began last April and has spanned some 95 days of witness testimony, continues tomorrow in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda Hospital.

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