Donegal blast: “All she wanted was to go back and get her ice cream,” says the rescuer as he helped a girl out of the rubble

A man has told how a young girl he rescued from the rubble of the Creeslough disaster wanted to go back for ice cream.

Rave Brian Dolan arrived at the scene of the disaster just seconds after an explosion ripped through the Applegreen Service Station building.

He said the first person he met was a young schoolgirl covered in cuts and bruises. She was in the store near the ice machine.

He said: “She wasn’t as bad as others but she was very disoriented.

“All she wanted to do was go back and get her ice cream. She must have been at the ice cream shop. I just picked her up and brought her out.

“It was just a horrible scene, but the people were great. We formed a line and people just lifted debris out of the area,” he said.

Mr Dolan added: “They go into the car drive. The people of the church were brilliant. Dozens of people helped.

“We cleared a path from the forecourt to the store and went inside. We knew it was serious. We had to clear a road for the rescue workers. We just did what we could do.

Thomas Kelly (59)

“The first was the building. You don’t really think and just dig into it. Radiators, panels, whatever, were thrown just to try and get a way in. It didn’t feel like it lasted very long.

“We knew who was there. We knew the cars and we knew who worked there. I don’t think anyone thought about what he was doing. There was no plan and no real thoughts.

“They were just regular members of the community going about a normal routine on a Friday, and it was just a normal day before a boom came over our little community.”

Mr Dolan said they tried to use jack stands to lift massive chunks of concrete from the area to find victims.

“They just weren’t strong enough. I think someone said they only lift two tons of material, so you can imagine how heavy the debris was,” he said.

He said his wife, Margaret Ann, left the post office attached to the gas station just minutes before the blast.

A postal receipt shows a time of 3:08 p.m., with the explosion taking place around 3:15 p.m.

By another stroke of luck, Mr Doland’s daughter Marcella avoided going to the shop but chose to go to Dunnes Stores in Letterkenny because she had a voucher to redeem.

Mr Dolan added: “We don’t get much sleep when we think about it and all the ‘ifs and buts’ and what could have been.

“I’m sure there are many stories like this out there, but you must count your blessings.” Donegal blast: “All she wanted was to go back and get her ice cream,” says the rescuer as he helped a girl out of the rubble

Fry Electronics Team

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