DUBLIN — Ten people from two Irish Gypsy families, half of them children, died Saturday when their mobile homes caught fire before dawn.

Detectives said it was too early to determine a cause for Ireland’s deadliest fire in 34 years. The death toll highlighted the often crowded, ramshackle living conditions for the homegrown Gypsy minority, who in Ireland are called Travellers.

Police said the dead included two married couples, an adult relative and five children, including a 6-month-old, who were living in neighboring caravans in the Dublin Mountain foothills south of the capital. The council-run site, located on a country lane between rugby and soccer fields, provides places for nomadic Traveller people to park their mobile homes and to use fixed shelters with kitchens, bathrooms and washing facilities.

Dublin Fire Brigade spokesman Gerry Stanley said the fire appeared to have started in one home and spread to the second.

The leader of Dublin’s 1.2 million Catholics, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, called on worshippers to pray for the dead at all weekend Masses. The city priest dedicated to the Traveller community, the Rev. Derek Farrell, traveled to the scene to console survivors.

Ireland’s leaders offered their condolences. “This is a most dreadful tragedy,” said President Michael D. Higgins.

The death toll is the worst from a blaze in Ireland since Valentine’s Day 1981, when 48 people died in a Dublin dance hall.

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