Tuesday 20 March 2018

House blaze claims the life of young woman

Stacey Dunlea
Stacey Dunlea
Scene of the fatal fire in Midelton

Joe Leogue and Olivia Kelleher

AN East Cork community is in shock following the death of a young woman from a well respected local family.

Stacey Dunlea, a 22-year -old creche worker who had a “bubbly personality” and “loved children” died in a house fire in Midleton, Co Cork.

She lost her life when a blaze swept through a four-bedroom dormer terrace house on the New Cork Road, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

There are no suspicious circumstances but a Garda investigation is under way to try and establish the cause of the blaze, which has numbed the local community.

The blaze started at approximately 3.30am and units from Midleton and Cobh fire stations were at the scene within minutes.

First responders successfully rescued Stacey’s 65-year-old father Paddy and her 27-year-old brother and 31-year-old sister from the fire, and recovered the victim from an upstairs bedroom in the house.

 Desperate attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her body was brought to Cork University Hospital for a post mortem.

Her three family members who were rescued from the fire were brought to Mercy University Hospital with minor injuries and were later discharged.

Gardai completed a technical examination of the scene by 11.30am on Saturday, and said there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire. It is understood that gardai are examining the possibility that a cigarette may have started the blaze.

On Saturday morning, locals expressed their shock at the fatality and said that the childcare assistant came from a large, well respected Midleton family.

The Dunlea family are well known in GAA circles and are heavily involved in the local GAA club.  Midleton GAA Chairman Liam Ryan expressed sympathies to the Dunlea family on behalf of the club.

“It’s just unbelievable, her brother played for the club last night, only to wake up to this in the morning. It’s so sad,” he said.

Mr Ryan said that the Dunleas were well-respected members of Midleton GAA, and that Paddy Dunlea had coached minor teams over the years. He said Stacey and her sisters were big followers of the club. “They are a big family of girls and boys, and the girls were always at the matches. They all followed Midleton,” he said.

Stacey Dunlea was described as a caring girl with a passion for sport. She was a former pupil of St Colman’s Community School.

Local Sinn Fein politician, Cllr Pat Buckley, described the Dunleas as being “a beautiful family”.

“This is a devastating blow for them.  They are very united and Stacey’s death is heart wrenching.”

He described  Stacey as a wonderful girl with a bubbly personality who loved children. “The community is shocked by the tragedy and is working to sort the family out as they lost everything in the fire,” he told the Sunday Independent.

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