45 firefighters tackle blaze at yard

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Forty-five firefighters fought for more than four hours to tackle a massive fire at a vehicle dismantler’s yard near Maghery.

Two large sheds were completely gutted at Toye’s yard in Milltown Lane as well as a large track digger.

NI Fire and Rescue Service Group Commander Lloyd Crawford told the Times it was a “difficult” fire to deal with.

Five fire appliances, a high volume pump, a water tanker and a control unit to deal with communications were all used in the operation.

The Group Commander said it was a difficult fire to contain and the initial concern was to stop it spreading to two homes nearby.

He explained that because of the nature of the yard which was full of lorry bodies, wheels, engines and tyres there was a great deal of rubber, fuel, oil and metal burning at an intense heat.

“The plume of smoke was tremendous,” said Commander Crawford.

He said the public were asked to move away from the area and a 100m exclusion zone was set up. Residents nearby were asked to keep their windows and doors closed.

He explained that the nature of the materials on fire presented a high risk to firefighters who had to use breathing apparatus and masks to tackle the blaze.

He added that logistically it was also a difficult fire to tackle because of its location down a narrow lane and the fact that a substantial amount of water was needed to quell the blaze.

The fire chief said a high volume pump was brought in from Armagh and a water tanker from Pomeroy. Initially there had been problems with access but the crews managed to pump water from Lough Neagh to put out the fire.

It took the crews from 3.10pm until 7.30pm on Wednesday to quench the blaze and firefighters also spent that night and the next day damping down the scene.

Commander Crawford said they were still investigating how the fire started. He said it would be difficult to assess as the building where they believe the fire began had collapsed in on itself.

Police attended the fire to direct traffic away from the area and allow clear passage for fire appliances.

The Environment Agency was also in attendance because of the nature of the materials involved.

And Northern Ireland Electricity were also there to assess the damage.

Commander Crawford said, “It was a very difficult incident to deal with because of the nature of the fire. The potential of risk to firefighters was great. However the firefighters were able to bring it under control using breathing apparatus. It was also a difficult fire in terms of logistics and the type of materials involved. It was very resource intensive.

“We had to be very careful of firefighters breathing in dangerous toxins.”

The fire chief added that there was substantial damage to the property but no one was injured in the fire.