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Saturday 10 December 2016

Teenager hailed a hero after saving baby from Dublin halting site inferno

Margaret Donohue, a relative of the Connors family, at the scene
Margaret Donohue, a relative of the Connors family, at the scene
Tara Gilbert, Willie Lynch, Kelsie (L) and Jodie (R)
Thomas Connors & Sylvia Connors
Fire victims Kelsey and Jodie
Baby Mary

A 14-year-old teenager has been hailed as a hero after he saved a baby from the halting-site horror inferno.

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

Flames tore through a portacabin, killing two couples, five of their children, and another man.

The blaze quickly spread to a second home and left the victims with little chance of survival.

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

Margaret Donohue, a relative of the Connors family, at the scene
Margaret Donohue, a relative of the Connors family, at the scene

READ MORE: Two couples and five children including baby among ten people dead following blaze

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.

Speaking to the Herald, Thomas's brother Dan (19) said the death toll could have been greater if it wasn't for the quick thinking of his younger brother.

READ MORE: Taoiseach among numbed mourners to pay respects to victims

Thomas Connors & Sylvia Connors
Thomas Connors & Sylvia Connors

"My little brother braved the flames while the fire was raging. He's only 14 - but he saved the life of a child.

"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 breath."

Fire victims Kelsey and Jodie
Fire victims Kelsey and Jodie

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

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

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

"There was 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."

Doting

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 Connors's second cousin, said her sister phoned her with the devastating news.

"This will affect the Travelling community a lot," said the mother-of-12 from Lucan.

"They're saying the young girl, Tara - she was pregnant... I'm thinking did her screams wake everybody else up?"

A Garda spokesman confirmed the incident was still being investigated and a technical examination is ongoing.

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