Fire fighters tackle ‘biggest incident for years’ in Newry
“It was one of the biggest incidents for years.” That was the damning assessment from chief fire officer of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service after they were confronted late last night in Newry with “serious and rapidly developing incidents”.
Fire crews arrived on the scene at 11:00pm last night to tackle the huge blaze at a clothes recycling plant at a warehouse on the Newtown Road. It was tackled by a staggering 115 firefighters and 23 fire engines from across the country throughout the night.
Area Commander John Allen spoke to Radio Ulster’s ‘Good Morning Ulster’ programme and said the fire teams struggled to get water to put the fire out because it was in a remote part of the countryside. “There are no rivers nearby which meant water had to be pumped over a mile and a half.”
To counter this, the NI Fire and Rescue Service relied on specialist high reach aerial appliances, water tankers and high volume pumping units. They were aided by supportive local residents and businesses who helped maintain the supply of water to the scene.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr described the scene as one of the biggest incidents Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service had ever attended.
“I am confident that only the courage and professionalism of our crews prevented the incident from escalating further. Our crews have worked in difficult and punishing conditions to prevent fire spread and while there is significant damage to property we have managed to save at least 50% of this major commercial enterprise.”
He added, “I would commend all those who are working at this major incident including those members of the local community who have assisted us.”
Local Sinn Féin councillor Packie McDonald spoke to Newry Times about the fire. He said, “This was one of the most serious blazes in recent years and I commend the fire service for their quick response and for stopping the fire spreading to other businesses. I know that there is no water source close to this business so I can appreciate the difficult and dangerous job which faced fire crews.”
“Thankfully no one was injured in this fire, however this is a serious blow to the local economy as there were over 100 people employed in this clothes recycling plant. My thoughts are with the owner of this business and its staff who will face an uncertain future due to this terrible incident.”
Sinn Fein MLA Megan Fearon added, “Although this was a major incident we must appreciate that the situation this morning could have been a lot worse were it not for the speedy response of the Fire and Rescue Service. I hope that this business can become operational once more in the near future.”
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