INTERVIEW: Woman was shopping near explosion

Posted at 1:16 PM, Jan 11, 2016

Niamh Murphy says she was shopping at Nouvelle Eve when the Old Market explosion happened:

“Went and said hi to a couple of friends in the Old Market and then I saw there was a sale at Nouvelle Eve, so I went in there. And the moment I walked into Nouvelle Eve, I smelled gas and I even commented on it when I was in there. I said, ‘You know, I smell gas in here.’ But everyone was so busy shopping because there was a sale on. And about five minutes later, it was just ‘boom.’ My whole body shifted backwards, and I was closest to the window. In front of me, when I was looking, the whole wall just exploded out. People started screaming. I saw one lady – she had blood on her face. Then I looked down and there was no - where I was standing, there was a vent and I was standing on one floor board. The rest of the floor had blown up just where I was standing.”

Q: How were you able to get out after that?

“It was all foggy and gritty, you know, grit in the air. And one of the employees was saying, ‘Everybody to the back door, get out the back door.’ Those people from the changing rooms, people,  you know,  half dressed, everything. Just everyone was screaming and running, trying to find the back door. And it was still hazy from the grit and smoky. And so we just, everyone was just running, following everyone else. Where I was, I was just carefully walking because some of the floor was blown up. So we all made it out the back door. No one on the streets really knew what was going on. People were just walking. I was with the lady that had her face cut and I was trying to call 911 and no one was answering at first, so I think a lot of people were starting to call. Then, I think she drove herself to the hospital. I was OK. I had grit in my eyes, but I got an eye wash, myself.  It was – it blew me back and it shook me up. It was very scary. And I’m hoping that no one else got hurt.”

Q: Did time slow down for you?

“It looked like what was blowing out, like the glass and everything from the wall, just was in slow motion, coming. And I didn’t, you know, I – in about a couple of seconds later, I realized it was a gas explosion because of what I smelled, but at first, it was like, ‘what just happened?’ And I was frozen in the spot, like I couldn’t move at first. Other people were too, and then everyone started screaming. Everyone was kind of frozen, and then it was a mad rush. It’s scary. I think that’s one of the scariest situations I’ve been in. The ringing in the ears. The big boom, like it went through my whole body. Not knowing what was going on. When I was going through the store, I didn’t know if there was going to be a second explosion. I’m like, ‘Is this it?’ Didn’t know. It was scary, probably the scariest thing that I’ve ever encountered. And I grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and there was bombs all the time, but, you know, this was very scary.”

Q: What’s the first thing that goes through your mind?

“When I looked down and the floor was gone, it was just all, everything was slow motion. Everything was surreal. And then, the second thing was, I thought, was No. 2 bomb might go off at any second, not bomb – but like explosion. And that might be it for me and I need to get out. That’s what I was thinking. I was very scared because I didn’t know if there was going to be another explosion or not. So I was just, I wasn’t panicking and screaming; I was quiet and moving in slow motion. I wasn’t running to that door. It was just all surreal. Really, I was in so much shock that I was not yet screaming and just moving slowly.

Q: This something you won’t forget?

“I’m still shaky because of it. You can hear in my voice. It’s not just because I’m on camera. I’m pretty shook up still, you know. But it’s sad what happened in the Old Market. I hope they can get those businesses – I don’t know how badly they were damaged, but, you know, love the Old Market, love the businesses down there. And people’s apartments – hope everyone can get everything rebuilt hopefully.”

Previous coverage on KMTV:

Details emerge from Old Market fire

The Market House's future uncertain after M's Pub fire

Fire crews remain on scene of icy M's Pub fire

M's Pub employee says she knew something wasn't right