Northern Ireland

Lewis Tavern: Fire badly damages Dundonald pub

Lewis Community Tavern
Image caption A fire broke out at the Lewis Community Tavern on Thursday morning

A pub in Dundonald, County Down, has been gutted in a fire that broke out on Thursday morning.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service received a call at 08:16 GMT to say that the Lewis Community Tavern was on fire.

More than 30 firefighters and seven fire appliances were dispatched.

The Upper Newtownards Road, where the pub is located, has reopened for traffic towards Dundonald.

One lane has reopened for traffic into Belfast.

Congested is likely to remain in the area during rush hour.

Firefighters remained at the scene on Thursday evening.

A spokesperson for the fire service said: "The incident has been scaled back and there is currently one fire appliance in attendance at the scene.

"Firefighting operations are likely to continue for a number of hours this evening.

"Firefighters worked hard to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent homes.

"The cause of the fire is under investigation."

The South Eastern Health Trust has issued an emergency notice advising Ulster Hospital out-patients to allow extra time for their journeys as its main entrance is inaccessible due to the fire.

A spokesperson said the rear entrance to the building is accessible via the Stoney Road, but that long delays should be expected.

Iris Stewart, who lives in the area, said the pub - formerly known as The Moat - was a focal point for pensioners in the area.

She described the sight of the burning building as "emotional" on Thursday morning.

"It's an old building and it's always been there and everybody in Dundonald knows it and knew everybody in it. There are a lot of pensioners who go and spend their time in the bar.

"Now they've nowhere to go - there's nothing up here."

Image caption Iris Stewart said the pub was very popular among pensioners