Elderly woman was trying to escape fire

Elderly woman was trying to escape fire


Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
Fire crews at the scene of the tragic fire at Firgrove, Hurlers Cross -Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

The elderly woman who died in a fire at her home in Co Clare may have been trying to escape to safety when she was overcome by smoke.

Sheila O’Meara, who was in her 70’s, was found dead in the hallway at her home in a quiet cul-de-sac at Firgrove, Hurler’s Cross near Shannon.

The alarm was raised at around 1.20am by a motorist travelling along the N18 Limerick to Ennis dual-carriageway.

Ambulance paramedics were first to arrive at the scene and discovered the rear of the bungalow engulfed in flames however they could do nothing until fire crews arrived.

Three units of the fire brigade from Shannon arrived at the scene and firefighters quickly began tackling blaze.

In the meantime, two teams of personnel wearing specialist breathing apparatus used a timber log to smash a window at the front of the property which had not been affected by fire.

Inside they discovered the pensioner in the hallway between the bedroom and kitchen areas. It’s believed Ms O’Meara may have been trying to escape the fire but was overcome by smoke and collapsed.

An engineer from the ESB was also requested to attend the scene to cut of electricity to the house so that fire crews could work safely.

A number of gas cylinders next to the property had to be made safe to ensure fire crews could work without the risk of an explosion.

It took about an hour for crews to bring the fire under control and they remained at the scene for several more hours. The roof in the area where the fire was most intense collapsed into the property.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
The roof of the rear section of building collapsed during the fire -Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

When it was safe to do so, a doctor was escorted into the house the pronounced the victim dead. Shortly after 5.00am, the fire service incident commander handed the scene over the gardaí for investigation.

The woman’s body remained at the scene overnight but was removed early yesterday (Friday) to University Hospital Limerick where a post mortem examination was due to be carried out.

The scene was also sealed off pending completion of a technical examination.

Gardaí have confirmed that there was no immediate indication that the fire was suspicious.

A spokesman said: “The technical examination will tell us more and the postmortem will also confirm the cause of death. There was no indication that the fire was suspicious but our investigation is continuing.”

Mrs O’Meara, whose husband is a retired garda sergeant, lived previously in Sixmilebridge and Bunratty areas before moving to Hurler’s Cross. It’s understood they have been separated for a time.

Local councillor and Mayor of Clare John Crowe said: “Sheila was a really lovely lady. She was very well known in the Sixmilebridge, Bunratty and Hurler’s Cross areas. She was very quiet and kept to herself a lot but would have been held in high regard.”

The victim is also survived by a son and daughter.


Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.