North recycling plant fire one of biggest in years

Sat, Jul 28, 2012, 01:00

A BLAZE which swept through a clothes recycling plant and warehouse near Newry was one of the biggest in years to be dealt with by firefighters in Northern Ireland.

A team of investigators has been called in to examine the scene, but it could be Monday before they get inside the building to begin their inspection. Nobody was hurt but, at the height of the blaze, up to 115 officers were involved in a massive operation to prevent it spreading from the site to an adjoining car park where 100 lorries had been left overnight. Just two were damaged. It took several hours before the fire was eventually brought under control.

Senior Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service members said the fire at Cloughoge, outside Newry, Co Down – 400m from the main Belfast-Dublin road – was one of the biggest they had tackled in years. At one stage 23 fire appliances were on site.

The plant is one of a number of businesses leased inside the modern, purpose-built property.

The alert was raised late on Thursday night. Crews from Newry were confronted with a rapidly developing fire at the warehouse which had high bay storage more than 100m in length. The site is used to bale clothes for export.

Reinforcements, including crews with specialist high-reach appliances, water tankers and high-volume pumping units were called in as the flames started to spread towards the car park.

Local residents and businesses gave assistance, according to Northern Ireland chief fire officer Chris Kerr. “This is one of the biggest incidents we have attended in many years and I am confident that only the courage and professionalism of our crews prevented the incident from escalating further,” he said.

“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 per cent of this major commercial enterprise.”