Latest: Dublin Fire Brigade not properly resourced to deal with major disaster says firefighter

Update 6.19pm: Firefighter and Workers’ Party representative David Gardiner has today called for urgent training and improved resources for firefighters in the wake of last night’s fire at the Metro Hotel in Ballymun.

Gardiner, who is the Workers’ Party representative for Lucan-Palmerstown, and a firefighter with Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB), said: "Thanks to the work of my colleagues in DFB, there was no loss of life in Ballymun last night.

"But the truth is that, in spite of repeated warnings from DFB, Dublin is at risk of a major disaster because we are not properly prepared...

"Equipment to tackle high rise fires is totally inadequate. Since 1981 there has been no increase in the number of fire appliances capable of responding to a fire like we saw last night - but in 1981, there were almost no ‘high rise’ buildings in Dublin.

"Last year, a number of second-hand appliances were bought to replace old high rise appliances. We discovered after they were bought that these appliances were not big enough to carry a full team of firefighters, and so they have to be accompanied by a separate car when they are deployed.

"This slows down response rate considerably and puts lives at risk.

"DFB and our representatives in SIPTU have been calling repeatedly for proper training in responding to high rise fires. This is becoming more and more important as Dublin’s number of high rise buildings increases."

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has paid tribute to the emergency services after a fire destroyed parts of a Dublin apartment complex and hotel.

Residents at the Metro Hotel building are being warned it could be six months before they can return home.

Gardaí are investigating the cause but at this stage, it’s not suspicious.

Simon Coveney says things could have been much worse:

"Nobody was injured. It could have been a very very different and tragic scene and it wasn't.

"I think that is a reflection on the professionalism of our emergency services and first responders."

Update 3.42pm: Families whose apartments were damaged in last night's fire "have nowhere to go and are homeless", according to a local Councillor.

Speaking today, Independent Dublin City Councillor for Ballymun Noeleen Reilly also praised the work of Dublin firefighters.

“I am absolutely relieved today that no one has been seriously hurt in the fire last night," she said.

"The 10th to the 15th Floor is gutted and when you look at it, it is a miracle that everyone got out safe.

"The Dublin Fire Brigade were on the scene within minutes and were phenomenal in evacuating people from the building as quickly as they did.

"They saved countless lives last night and deserve all the praise they are getting today.

She said that focus must now turn to the people who lost their homes in the fire.

“Now we have to support the families that have nowhere to go and are homeless as a result of this fire," he said.

"All their belongings are gone and they do not know what lies ahead of them in the coming days, weeks and months.

"It will be some time before the apartments are habitable again.

"The Metro Hotel is asking anyone affected to ring 085 754 5232 or 087 769 5555 for assistance.

"I also want to commend the Ballymun Community who have shown unbelievable levels of support for families in the last day.

"A collection has been organised for clothes in the nearby Trinity Comprehensive and St Kevin in Ballygall by Ballymun Kickhams.”

Update, 2.48pm: Metro Hotel will be 'closed for some time' following fire

The Metro Hotel has issued a statement following last night's fire apologising to its guests.

They confirmed that all their guests, plus people living in 30 apartments, have been accounted for, but also that the hotel will be "closed for some time".

Their statement read: "Metro Hotel wishes to apologise to hotel patrons and guests that the hotel is currently closed, and will remain closed for some time, following a fire.

"Metro Hotel is actively engaging with emergency services following the fire which occurred at around 7.30pm on Wednesday evening, 21 March 2018.

"All hotel guests (over 150) as well as the residents of 30 apartments attached to the hotel are accounted for and were relocated to the nearby Carlton Hotel for the night.

"The key focus of hotel staff today is to notify inbound guests and to source alternative accommodation for tenants and guests, with whom we will be liaising throughout today.

"Unfortunately, guest and tenant access to personal belongings located in the hotel / apartments is restricted until clearance is received from emergency services. We will provide regular updates as they become available.

"The cause of the fire is still being investigated. No decision can be made about a hotel re-opening date until the cause of the fire has been established and all safety considerations have been thoroughly assessed."

2.18pm: Families may be left homeless for six months after Ballymun fire

Dozens of families have been left homeless after the fire in Dublin.

It could be six months before they are able to return to their homes following the blaze at the Metro Hotel which has caused extensive damage.

Gardaí are investigating the cause, but at this stage it is not considered suspicious.

Adeel, his partner Anita and their two children have been living there for the past three years, and he says they are devastated.

He said: "You worry about a place to live, you worry about your belongings, but that's not the main thing.

"The main thing is that our kids are safe and everyone else is safe."

1.14pm: Firefighters seek urgent meeting with Housing Minister in wake of Ballymun high-rise fire

Representatives of SIPTU and Fórsa members in the Dublin Fire Brigade (DFB) are seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, concerning the provision of adequate training, resources and risk assessments to deal with the threat of high rise fires.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Brendan O’Brien, said: “DFB firefighters believe that the high-rise fire in Ballymun last night has starkly illustrated why their repeated demands for high rise firefighting training, as well as the provision of adequate resources and risk assessments, must be acted on.

“Since 1981, there has been no increase in the provision of high reach fire appliances, despite the city having grown considerably since then.”

Two floors of the apartment complex were completely gutted while others have been significantly damaged.

More than 150 guests were safely evacuated after the blaze broke out last night on an upper floor of the Metro Hotel in Ballymun.

Eight fire engines, 60 firefighters and a range of other emergency services brought the blaze under control in the early hours of this morning.

There are no reports of any injuries.

DFB SIPTU Section Chair, Deirdre Taylor, said: “We knew it was only a matter of time before a large scale high-rise fire incident occurred in Dublin. The Area Risk Categorisation document for the Ballymun area does not include high-rise buildings such as the Metro. Thankfully there has been no loss of life in this case. We hope that lessons can be learned from this incident before it is too late.”

Update 12.11pm: Investigations are underway into the cause of a major fire at a Dublin hotel and apartment complex.

Around 200 people were evacuated from the Metro Hotel, and there was no loss of life or injuries.

Two floors have been completely gutted while others have been significantly damaged.

Chief Fire Officer Patrick Fleming says at this stage the cause of the blaze is not suspicious.

He said: "The first crews, when they arrived, were faced with a well-developed fire on the 13th floor, they immediately set about a further evacuation of the premises and firefighting.

"The fire developed and moved to the 10th floor of the building itself. We were fighting the fire both internally and externally and great work was done by the crews in actually bringing it under control."

10.05am: 'I lost everything', says resident as Gardaí start investigation into Ballymun fire

Gardaí have begun an investigation into the cause of a major fire at a hotel and apartment complex in Dublin.

Sections of the area remain cordoned off and diversions remain in place.

More than 150 guests were safely evacuated after the blaze broke out last night.

The fire erupted on an upper floor of the Metro Hotel in Ballymun shortly after 8pm yesterday evening.

Eight fire engines, 60 firefighters and a range of other emergency services brought the blaze under control in the early hours of this morning.

There are no reports of any injuries.

The top five floors of the building have been badly damaged.

One resident was devastated, saying: "I just went to the gym for 30 minutes, came back home and saw the apartment was on fire.

"I lost everything - all my clothes, furniture, everything."

Another man returned home to find the building in flames.

He said: "I'm not allowed in the building for a couple of days. I have nothing, I have no clothes, no things and I have no idea what's going to happen now."

The Metro Hotel in Ballymun this morning. Pic: Paul Quinn/Newstalk

Dublin's Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha has commended Dublin Fire Brigade on its "rapid and effective response".

The Lord Mayor said: "On behalf of the people of Dublin City I commend Dublin Fire Brigade for their rapid and effective response to the Metro Hotel fire.

"They helped to ensure that there were no casualties in what was a potentially catastrophic fire in a high rise building.

"The efficiency and courage of the Dublin Fire Brigade crews was demonstrated last night and the people of the City are very grateful to them. We must now ensure that all aspects of this fire are fully investigated."

6.30am: More than 150 saved as firefighters put out major fire at hotel in Dublin

More than 150 guests of a Dublin Hotel have been safely evacuated after a major fire broke out last night.

The top five floors of the Metro Hotel in Ballymun in Dublin have been damaged after the blaze.

Crews from Dublin Fire Brigade remain at the scene after they managed to bring the blaze in the upper storeys of the hotel under control in the early hours of this morning.

The residents were transferred to the Carlton Hotel for the night.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McAuliffe was at the scene as firefighters tackled the blaze and says the fire is a blow for the whole area.

He said: "It's going to have a major impact on business in the area, because the hotel was a significant part of the business life of Ballymun.

"So something like this will have a long-lasting effect for everybody."

The fire broke out shortly after 8pm last night and quickly engulfed several floors of the building.

More than 60 firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control earlier this morning.

Mr McAuliffe said the blaze was "one of the most significant fires in the Dublin area in recent times".

"Its cause and the spread of it in such a rapid way are going to have to be investigated," he told the Press Association.

"Dublin Fire Brigade have that capacity to investigate these fires. We want to see the results of it and I imagine there will be serious questions asked."

Erica Fleming, whose apartment overlooks the hotel said she could see and hear windows exploding as a result of the heat.

Last night, she said: "One of the apartments is completely engulfed.

"There is smoke billowing up through the floors.

"The windows exploded about 20 minutes ago, obviously from the heat.

"The windows of other apartments are just completely blackened out. You cannot see the corridor or landings.

"I can see the fire crews dragging the hoses through the building. They are still two floors below but they are making their way up slowly."

Dublin Fire Brigade said there will be road closures around the area as they will have four units putting out hotspots remaining in the hotel overnight.

There had been concerns a number of homeless families were being accommodated there, but Dublin City Council confirmed last night that there wasn't any.

Witness Anthony Flynn last night said he did not believe anyone was still trapped inside the burning building.

"It looks like everybody is out of the hotel," he said. "There are no reported injuries at this stage."

Mr Flynn, a co-founder of the Inner City Helping Homeless organisation, said pieces of debris could be seen flying from the blazing building in scenes similar to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London.

He said he understood no homeless families were currently housed in the building.

He added: "We are looking at the top seven floors that appear to be alight. It seems to be spreading like mad. It's exactly what it looked like at Grenfell. It appears to have started on the top two floors but has spread downwards and upwards."

- Digital Desk and PA

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