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Dublin: 13°C Wednesday 4 August 2021

Firefighter's 'mask slipped' as crew responded to toxic fumes emergency

One man – the owner of a drain-clearing company – was killed in the incident. His brother remains in hospital today.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

AN OFFICER WITH Dublin Fire Brigade has explained how one firefighter’s mask slipped slightly as the team responded to yesterday afternoon’s sewer tragedy in Portmartnock – in which one man lost his life.

“In the process of our operation, one of our masks was dislodged and he just took in a wisp of the toxic fumes,” Third Officer Gerry Stanley, who was at the scene yesterday, said.

He was just overcome slightly – he’s fine.

“Two other guys – two other firefighters – were also brought to hospital just as a precaution, due to the nature of the sewer and the contaminants that are involved in it,” Stanley told Newstalk.

Emergency services responded to the incident after 2.30pm yesterday afternoon.

Two experts from drain-clearing and service firm Draintech were working on a sewer in Drumnigh Wood, when one got into difficulty.

One of the men collapsed into the pit. The second man attempted to rescue him, and was also overcome.

It was later confirmed that one man – named as Draintech owner Alan Harris – had died following the incident.

His brother, Steve Harris, remains in hospital at Beaumont today. His condition is said to be critical.

The three firefighters hospitalised last evening were released after a quick check-up.

Separate Garda and Health and Safety Authority inspections are under way today.

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Neighbours in the quiet north Dublin estate, meanwhile, have been speaking of their shock at the event – and have extended their sympathies to the family.

“It’s just dreadful… I’ve been here since before that estate was built and nothing has ever happened in there like that. I’m just shocked,” Paula Mooney, who lives nearby, told FM104.

Alan and Steve Harris are cousins of Irish footballer Robbie Keane, sources close to the player confirmed to TheJournal.ie today.

Read: Investigation under way after one man dies and a second injured in Portmarnock sewer pipe incident >

Read: 18-year-old arrested after three men from same family injured in knife attack

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Daragh Brophy

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