A French fry pan left on a hot plate of an electric cooker was the cause of a horrific fire which claimed the lives of 10 people at a halting site, a Dublin inquest has been told.
Five adults, one pregnant, and five children aged from five months to nine years died after the fire ripped through the temporary halting site for members of the traveler community outside Carrickmines, Co. Dublin.
The fire in the early hours of October 10, 2015, broke out in one portacabin before quickly spreading to another.
The director of public prosecutions has already ruled there are no grounds to prosecute site owners Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council under health and safety legislation.
The blaze claimed the lives of Thomas Connors, 28, his wife Sylvia, 30, and their children Jim, aged five, Christy, three, and five-month-old Mary. Also killed were Willie Lynch, 25, his partner Tara Gilbert, 27, who was pregnant, and her daughters Jodie, aged nine, Kelsey, four, and Willie’s brother Jimmy Lynch, 39.
Coroner Dr. Myra Cullinane, sitting with a jury, was told the victims were identified with the use of DNA evidence.
The inquiry heard the Lynch family were visiting the Connors and all were staying in the same unit when the tragedy occurred.
Detective Inspector Martin Creighton gave evidence that an extensive inquiry showed that the blaze was probably started by a pan left on an electric cooker hot plate at full power.
CCTV footage from the car park of a sports club 300 meters from the halting site showed flames flickering on the road at 4:23 a.m.
Cullinane told the jury of eight men and four women that their difficult task would be to establish the identity and cause of each death and return an appropriate verdict. She said the jury could make a general recommendation to minimize the possibility of similar future deaths, but their “difficult task” was not concerned with finding fault or exonerating anyone.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council witnesses told the first day of the hearing that the halting area was a temporary emergency site provided in 2008 for families who were living at the side of the road. Temporary emergency sites were exempt from housing regulations, including fire safety regulations. A permanent site could not be provided in that area as it was due to be used for road development.
The inquest is expected to run for another two weeks.