Portacabin with steel lining acted 'like an oven' in Carrickmines fire that claimed 10 lives - inquest
THE portacabin which rapidly became engulfed in flames in the Carrickmines halting site blaze was a modified security hut with a steel lining that acted "like an oven," a fire expert has told the Dublin City Coroner's Court.
The inquest heard that "noxious" black smoke would have enveloped the mobile home within a number of minutes.
Five adults and five children died in the tragic fire at the Glenamuck Road halting site in south Dublin in October 2015.
David O'Connor, a certified fire safety engineer told the jury that he was asked by gardaí to carry out a fire safety assessment of the site, approximately three weeks after the event.
He was assisted by support documents and CCTV footage from gardaí taken near the scene.
He explained to the inquest that fire safety requirements of building regulations did not apply to caravans as these units are considered temporary dwellings and are exempt from requirements.
"These units are considered temporary dwellings so are exempt from building regulations and control regulations," he said.
He said fire safety guidelines would apply if the local authority was carrying out works on halting sites. Otherwise, statutory obligations rest with the owner or occupier of dwellings there, he said.
He said examination had shown the fire had grown in two stages - with an initially ignited 'local fire' in 'unit two' of the halting site filling the living room with 'untenably hot smoke' in a number of minutes.
The entire unit would have become smoke filled soon afterwards and he estimated that this would have taken four minutes.
At some point, the fire would have rapidly increased, either from boiling over or from flaming oil. Windows and doors must have been open for it to grow so rapidly, he said.
He said petroleum-based polystyrene insulation in the walls meant that temperatures would have been much higher than that of a normal house fire. "It was off the charts," he said, describing it as being similar to "an articulated truck going on fire."
Mr O'Connor said he could find no evidence of any type of fire alarm system but agreed with coroner Myra Cullinane that unit two had been "completely destroyed" so he was unable to confirm what was there and unit three was 'very badly destroyed' so he could not say for sure if there was a fire alarm.
Since the Carrickmines blaze, a new guide to fire safety in existing traveller accommodation has been drawn up and there are now requirements for a smoke detector, an escape window and other requirements, said Mr O'Connor, adding that this was "a good thing that has been done" arising from the tragedy.