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Carrickmines fire: Teenager hailed a hero for rescuing child from inferno in which 10 died

By Mark O'Regan

Published 12/10/2015

Chief fire officer Pat Fleming (left) and assistant chief fire officer Dennis Keeley assess the damage at the site for Travellers in Carrickmines
Chief fire officer Pat Fleming (left) and assistant chief fire officer Dennis Keeley assess the damage at the site for Travellers in Carrickmines
The victims in the fire in Carrickmines outside Dublin included Tara Gilbert
The victims in the fire in Carrickmines outside Dublin included Tara's Kelsey and Jodie
The victims in the fire in Carrickmines outside Dublin included Willie Lynch
The victims in the fire in Carrickmines outside Dublin included Jimmy Lynch
The victims in the fire in Carrickmines outside Dublin included Thomas and Sylvia Connors
The victims in the fire in Carrickmines outside Dublin included the Connors’ baby, Mary

A 14-year-old has been hailed a hero after saving a baby from an inferno at a Travellers' halting site.

The tragedy unfolded at the site on the Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines, Co Dublin, at around 4am on Saturday.

Flames tore through a portable cabin, claiming the lives of two couples, five of their children, and another male. The blaze quickly spread to a second home and left the victims with little chance of survival.

A five-month-old baby was among the dead.

Those who died are from three generations of an extended Connors family, who are members of the Traveller community.

Nine died on the site - and one later in hospital.

Thomas Connors (27), his wife Sylvia (25), and three of their children - Jim (5), Christy (2) and five-month-old Mary - perished in the inferno.

Thomas's brother, Dan (19), said the death toll could have been greater if not for the quick thinking of his younger brother.

"My little brother braved the flames while the fire was raging.

"He's only 14 - but he saved the life of a child," he said.

"He ran in through the door, and passed two children out through the window, but one of them died.

"Thomas had very bad asthma, and he was on the floor before the fire even got to him. He must have collapsed from the toxic fumes and the smoke.

"My little brother tried to go in again to save more people, but the fire quickly went out of control.

"He nearly died himself - he couldn't breathe."

He said Thomas Connors "absolutely loved his wife and children".

"They were married for seven years and moved to the site from Clondalkin a couple of months ago.

"They planned to remain living in this location and raise their family.

"There were a total of 11 in the shed - but nobody knows for sure what caused the fire.

"We were in Enniskerry when we got a phone call telling us what had happened. We came straight here and everything was on fire."

Sylvia's brother Willie Lynch (25), his partner Tara Gilbert (27), and their children Jodie (9), and four-year-old Kelsey also died in the tragedy.

Tara was four months pregnant with the couple's third child. The "doting father" had planned to take Kelsey, who had started pre-school in August, hunting with him over the weekend, according to his cousin, Sarah.

Jodie was "so bright and so clever and always so full of fun," Sarah added.

Mr Lynch's brother, Jimmy (39), was the tenth victim.

Margaret Donohue, Thomas Connor's second cousin, said her sister phoned her with the devastating news.

"It's just such a heartbreak for so many people. This will affect the Travelling community a lot," said the mother-of-12 from Lucan.

"It's really tragic. They're saying the young girl, Tara - she was pregnant - was running around like a human fireball. She was screaming… trying to quell the flames.

"I'm thinking, did her screams wake everybody else up?"

She said the family are "in the dark" as to what happened.

"Sylvia and Tom have two surviving children. It's just so sad they'll grow up without parents, no mam and no dad."

The Lynch family are believed to have been staying with the Connors - who had lived at the site for eight years - to attend a family gathering, thought to be a christening.

Last night, two children remain in hospital. One is in a stable condition, the other is in a serious but stable condition.

Belfast Telegraph

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