Newry fire described as biggest in years

Still of mobile phone footage taken of fire This still is taken from mobile phone footage of the blaze tackled by firefighters from across NI

A major fire at a County Armagh clothes recycling plant, which at its peak was tackled by 115 firefighters and 23 fire engines, is now under control.

The Fire Service arrived at the warehouse on the Newtown Road in Cloghoge, outside Newry, shortly after 23:00 BST on Thursday.

Firefighters were confronted with a "serious and rapidly developing fire" when they arrived at the scene.

The chief fire officer said it was "one of the biggest incidents" for years.

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I am confident that only the courage and professionalism of our crews prevented the incident from escalating further”

End Quote Chris Kerr Northern Ireland chief fire officer

Crews from across Northern Ireland have been drafted in to help.

Speaking to Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster, Area Commander John Allen said it was difficult to get water to put out the fire.

"This happened 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," he said.

Specialist high reach aerial appliances, water tankers, high volume pumping units as well as local residents and businesses supplied water to the scene.

Mr Allen said that crews would remain at the scene on Friday and people would not be allowed near the building as it was not structurally safe.

He said a warehouse which stores building materials was saved although the clothing area was lost.

The fire, which was at risk of spreading to a large lorry park full of commercial vehicles, has been declared a major incident.

Northern Ireland's interim Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr was in charge at the scene.

He said: "This is one of the biggest incidents Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has attended in many years and 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.

"I would commend all those who are working at this major incident including those members of the local community who have assisted us.

He said contingency plans had been put in place to ensure emergency cover continued to be provided in other areas.

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