Dublin fire: Six-month-old baby among 10 killed in tragic halting site blaze

Fire that broke out in south Dublin in early hours of morning kills members of two families

A fire that broke out at at a Dublin halting site has claimed the lives of 10 people from two families.

At least five of the dead are children, including a six-month old baby while others were treated for smoke inhalation in hospital.

The halting site at Glenamuck Road, Carrickmines, is now subject to examination by the Garda technical bureau. The Assistant State Pathologist also visited the scene. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

The dead include one couple and their three children, another couple and their two children and one other person. Some of the dead are extended family members who had come to visit the area.

They are said to be well-known in the area, and were originally from Ballyogan. They moved to the UK briefly before coming to Glenamuck Road five years ago. The site is a small enclosure surrounded by fencing, and is located between sports grounds belonging to Bective Rangers RFC and the Wayside Celtic soccer team.

The Garda helicopter was present earlier on Saturday, and did a series of close-to-ground aerial surveillance flights around the affected area. Aerial images of the site show a number of units- which are said to be a mix of permanent structures and caravans- situated closely together. It is believed that the site usually accommodates around 20 occupants.

Emergency services were called to the blaze at about 4am. Fire fighters from Dun Laoghaire, Nutgrove and Donnybrook battled the blaze and a number of ambulances attended the scene of the fire.

Speaking at the scene of the fire on Saturday, Denis Keeley, assistant chief fire officer with Dublin Fire Brigade, said they received a call at 4.24am . “DFB responded with three fire tenders and a senior fire officer to the scene, and at 4.34am on arrival were met with quite a substantial and well-established fire scene.” He said two adults and two children were taken to hospital from the scene.

Gerry Stanley of Dublin Fire Brigade said when fire fighters arrived one of the halting site residents was holding a child who had been rescued.

He said a number of bodies remained at the scene for some time after the fire. “The fire was so bad that those people are still in situ, and the technical examination will get under way,” Mr Stanley told reporters.

“There was a young child removed suffering from smoke inhalation and burns, that child was removed from the units with breathing apparatus and transported to hospital”, he added.

The fire is believed to have hit two housing units. “We suspect at this early stage that the fire started in one particular unit and spread to the second one. We’ve got one unit that’s fully involved in the fire and a second one that’s partially burned.”

Superintendent Martin Fitzgerald of Dun Laoghaire Garda station said they were appealing to anybody who had information on the fire to come forward.

Garda chief superintendent Diarmuid O'Sullivan from Dun Laoghaire Garda station said: "I want to offer my condolences and the condolences of An Garda Síochána to the families that have lost their lives and have been injured in this terrible tragedy. I also want to extend those condolences to the wider Traveller community.

“We have no information at the moment as to how it came about, that’s the purpose of what we’re trying to do at this point in time”, he added.

He said the investigation would be ongoing for “a considerable period of time”.

Since news of the disaster broke early on Saturday morning, a steady stream of family members and local residents have came to the scene to pay tributes and lay flowers.

According to neighbours, there had been another relatively large fire in the environs of the halting site at around 9.30pm on Friday evening, and it is not known if this was in any way related to the fatal incident.

“I know there was a fire up there at 9.30. We didn’t hear anything at 4 or 4.30 this morning until about 8.30 this morning when my sister said there’s been a fire and some people have died,” said Suzanne Fitzpatrick, who described those involved as a “friendly bunch who kept to themselves”.

“We just saw a high flame, a bit of clear smoke, the flames seemed to get higher and we came in and heard nothing until 8.30 this morning.

“They were nice people I’d have to say, good people. They’d say hello when they saw you, they didn’t interfere with us. We’re very sad, devastated. We can’t get over what happened,” she said.

President Michael D Higgins said he was “shocked and saddened” by the fire, adding: “This is a most dreadful tragedy. My thoughts at this time are with the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured. Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has asked that all those who have died and those injured and their families be remembered in prayer at all Masses in the Archdiocese this weekend.