Probe into Carrickmines fire says it was accidental

Horror: The fire in Carrickmines that claimed 10 lives is believed to have started accidentally
Horror: The fire in Carrickmines that claimed 10 lives is believed to have started accidentally

The fire that killed 10 people and wiped out two families at a halting site in Carrickmines is believed to have started accidentally inside a Portacabin where the families were sleeping, according to a source close to the investigation.

Investigators have combed the ashes and remnants of the portacabins on what was supposed to be a temporary halting site and early indications are the blaze started inside the Portacabin where two families were sleeping.

A source close to the investigation said that it is believed it started accidentally inside the Portacabin in the early hours of the morning, but investigators don't know for sure yet what started it.

More inquiries are under way to pinpoint whether the fire was caused by a gas or electrical fault or an open flame.

The source also said there was no evidence to back up reports that a fire burning on the site earlier that evening could have been linked to the blaze, and investigators have ruled out foul play.

The investigation is being conducted by Dublin fire services and gardai in Dun Laoghaire, who will be preparing a report for the Dublin County Coroner. Inquests are expected to be held into the deaths of the 10 victims of the tragedy in the coming months.

The fire had already ripped through one prefab on the halting site at Glenamuck Road South when the alarm was raised at 4.24am on Saturday morning, on October 10. It quickly spread to surrounding units.

The site accommodated up to half a dozen caravans and two more permanent structures, and accommodated a large extended family. All 10 of those who died were sleeping in the Portacabin in which the fire is believed to have started, while 15 others on the halting site survived.

The survivors included Tom Connors (4), who was pulled from the fire by his teenage uncle, John. His brother, Michael (6) was staying with his grandparents that night.

Their parents, Thomas and Sylvia Connors, their children Jim (5) Christy (2), and baby Mary (five months) were buried in Wexford on Friday.

At the funeral Mass, John Lynch, a brother of Sylvia, Willie and Jimmy, and uncle to their children, told how they had had "a lovely day" together the day before they died.

When he got the call the next morning, he said he did not believe it: "Then, in a moment, I realised all my family was gone. My brothers, my sister, my sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, my nephews and nieces. The whole lot gone, in one go."

Fr Dermot Lane told mourners at the Connors' funeral Mass that there had been a lack of empathy from the settled community in the days since the fire.

He was understood to be referring to objections from local residents to move the surviving families onto another site in the area that had been earmarked as a playground.

"There are important lessons to be learned from this national tragedy. We must learn, above all, to walk in the shoes of the other if we are to develop genuinely inclusive and pluralistic societies."

The funerals of Willie Lynch (25), Tara Gilbert (27), who was pregnant; their daughters, Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4); and Willie's brother, Jimmy Lynch (39), were held on Tuesday.

Reverend Aodhan Marken told mourners: "This family lived united in love - surrounded by care and kindness - may this be the story that their sons are told and may this be the legacy that continues as we remember and pray for them. Yes, they died amid tragedy and devastation but they lived in love for one another and especially for their family."

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council announced that the 15 survivors of the fire will be accommodated in emergency housing on a car park on the Ballyogan Road in south Dublin.

However, the council said that the site was not ideal. Local residents had objected to the council's original plan to provide temporary accommodation for the 15 survivors on a site at Rockville Drive.

Cars blockaded the entrance to the site and contracters hired by the council to start work on it were unable to gain access, the council said.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said the new site will meet fire safety standards, including a 6.5-metre distance between each of the units.

Via Sunday Independent/Maeve Sheehan