A fatal ambulance fire which killed a patient onboard in Co Kildare may have been caused by an oxygen tank explosion.
A man aged in his 70s died in the blaze following the explosion outside the Emergency Department at Naas General Hospital.
As a member of ambulance personnel went into the ambulance, there was an event which could be categorised as a small explosion at the rear of the ambulance, as a result of which the ambulance has been destroyed.
It was not possible to remove the patient and he has, as a result of that incident, lost his life.
I'm sorry to have to tell you that the patient’s death was a direct consequence of the fire. If the fire had no occurred then he would not have died.
Our sympathies are very much with the family at this time, in what is a very tragic loss. The staff here at Naas General Hospital and the ambulance service personnel did everything that they could to save him but it was not, unfortunately, possible.
– Tony O’Brien, Health Service Executive
The HSE, Health and Safety Authority and Gardaí have all launched investigations into what happened.
The ambulance which caught fire had been in operation for less than a year.
The main line of enquiry is understood to be based around the possibility that an oxygen tank on board exploded.
An immediate safety notice has been issued to all ambulance staff to ensure all oxygen is checked, and to re-familiarise themselves with the emergency ambulance evacuation procedures.
The Irish National Ambulance Service has also directed its oxygen supplier to undertake a series of checks.
Two paramedics were also injured in the blast, one has been released from hospital, while the other is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.