Top model's little sister and grandmother killed in blaze
The nine-year-old sister of one of the country's most successful models died in a fire at her grandmother's home.
Gabriela Glorija Grunova and her grandmother Philomena O'Rourke (87) lost their lives after a fire ripped through Ms O'Rourke's home in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The fire occurred at Clohass, a rural area some 5km away from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
Gabriela is the little sister of Teodora Sutra, a well known fashion model who is originally from Latvia but now based in Dublin. A friend of Teodora said today she is "devastated" by the loss of her little sister.
Philomena's son, Aidan, received injuries from broken glass and suffered from smoke inhalation as he tried to gain entry through windows that he had smashed in his efforts to rescue his mother and daughter. He remains in hospital receiving treatment.
Gabriela was dropped off by her parents - Aidan O'Rourke and Zane Sutra - to spend the night with her grandmother while they visited Enniscorthy town for dinner in the restaurant owned by independent TD Michael Wallace.
Shortly after leaving the restaurant, Aidan and Zane called to his mother's home at approximately 12.30am, but when they arrived they found the house engulfed in flames with smoke billowing through the roof.
The emergency services were immediately alerted, with four units of Enniscorthy fire services arriving at the scene within minutes. They fought the blaze for several hours before eventually bringing it under control.
Forensic teams arrived at the scene yesterday morning to carry out an examination, but it is not yet known how the fire started.
A spokesman at the scene said initial inquiries suggest the fire was not suspicious.
The house is just off the main New Ross road, is surrounded by a newly built wall and trees, and was described locally as a real 'doll's house'.
Gardai cordoned off the scene of the fire to allow for a forensic examination. The road leading to the house was sealed off by gardai as forensic experts worked inside the building, which was extensively damaged as a result of the blaze.
Mrs O'Rourke is a native of Carnew, Co Wicklow, but had lived in Clohass since 1964 in a house that she and her husband Jim, who died some 15 years ago, purchased from Mr Jimmy Nolan, the father of horse trainer Paul.
Described as a woman who travelled extensively to visit her daughters in Luxembourg and Amsterdam, neighbours paid tribute to her. They said they were devastated at the tragic loss of a woman they described as a great neighbour.
Jimmy Nolan said she was "a great friend and neighbour. She was a wonderful woman for her age, a great neighbour and friend. She travelled lots to visit her daughter and still drove her small car".
"We are all devastated by the tragedy. It was a doll's house with the cup of coffee and tea always available whenever one visited.
"Only a few days ago, I cut her grass. She kept herself like a doll and was always so welcoming. We have known her since she came to live here. Her house is just a field away from my own. We are all devastated the tragedy.
"I also knew the granddaughter. She was a charming little girl, with a broad smile. The loss of a young life in these circumstances is so tragic. The whole parish which, like any small rural parish, is left devastated. They were a well-known and well-liked family who contributed so much to the area. The little girl on her visits always cheered up her grand-mother. They were so close and spent so much time together.
"It's an absolute tragedy and I'm shocked that something like this could happen round here. We hear about such tragedies and read about them, but it's only when it happens on one's own doorstep that the significance of such tragedies hit home. We are all gutted and praying for the family."