Firefighter tells Carrickmines fire inquest about finding baby in 'intense heat' of burning caravan

Firefighter tells Carrickmines fire inquest about finding baby in 'intense heat' of burning caravan

Firefighters entered a burning structure on a ‘snatch rescue’ mission to save baby Mary Connors, an inquest into a fatal fire at a halting site in south Dublin has heard.

The six-month-old infant was found in a room in conditions described by firefighters as "unsupportive of life".

The first firefighters, paramedics and Gardaí to arrive at the scene of the devastating fire were giving evidence on the third day of an inquest into 10 deaths at a halting site on the Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines, Dublin 18.

The aftermath of the fire at the halting site. Pic: Rollingnews.ie
The aftermath of the fire at the halting site. Pic: Rollingnews.ie

Dublin Fire Brigade firefighter Ray Martin and his colleagues responded to a call at 4.20am. He was moving the hose to the fire when a man in his 30s began helping him.

“He was saying, ‘You have to help them, please help them,’” Mr Martin said.

One mobile home was ablaze and flames were emerging from a second mobile when he was instructed there was a baby inside.

"It was a snatch rescue rather than fire extinguisher operation," Mr Martin said.

The inquest heard evidence that a fire hydrant located between 50m and 70m from the site was being used as a water supply. There was one closer but Mr Martin did not know why this was not used. The crew had 8,000 litres of water stored on two fire appliances upon arrival. This amounted to between eight and 10 minutes of available water, Mr Martin said.

“The radiant heat was extremely intense,” he said.

“There were flames top to bottom at the door. We attacked the fire at the door, knocked the flames back. A woman came and she said ‘she’s in there (the baby), she’s on the bed.’

“There was a lot of thick smoke and heat but I couldn’t see flames. I went straight to the bed, I saw the baby lying on the bed with the duvet turned over beside her,” Mr Martin said.

I took the baby off the bed and cradled her and brought her to the door. - Dublin Fire Brigade firefighter Ray Martin

Baby Mary was rushed to an ambulance where paramedics were treating her brother Tom (aged 4) who had been pulled from the blaze by his 14-year-old uncle, John Keith Connors.

Baby Mary displayed no signs of life, she was not breathing, there was soot around her mouth and nose. There were burn marks on her face and arms, the inquest heard.

She was rushed to Tallaght Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5.31am. The child was formally identified that morning by her uncle and godfather, Dan Connors.

Thomas Connors (aged 27) his wife Sylvia (aged 30) and their children Jim, five, Christy, three, and six-month-old Mary died in the blaze. Willie Lynch (aged 25) his partner Tara Gilbert (aged 27) who was pregnant, their daughters Jodie, aged nine, and Kelsey, age four were visiting the Connors family and they also died. The tenth victim was Jimmy Lynch (aged 39), a brother of Willie Lynch.

Thomas Connors and his wife Sylvia.
Thomas Connors and his wife Sylvia.

Previously, the inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that all the adults in the Connors family home were drinking on the night of October 9 2015. The children went to bed at 8pm. Jim Connors Junior said he left the mobile around 2am.

"It was 2am when I was leaving and we were all drunk," he said.

The cause of the fire was identified as a chip pan left on the hot plate of an electric cooker.

The inquest continues.

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