Mandarin Palace: Residents unlikely to return until Thursday

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Media captionFire crews at the scene of a fire on Queen's Quay in Londonderry.

Residents moved from their homes due to a fire at a Londonderry restaurant will likely not be able to return until Thursday, police have said.

Earlier, the fire service said 130 firefighters were involved in tackling the "major" blaze at Queen's Quay. The fire is still burning.

It broke out just after 12:50 GMT on Wednesday, at the Mandarin Palace on Strand Road.

Strand Road and Queen's Quay are set to remain closed until Thursday.

On Wednesday night, Ch Insp Andy Lemon said: "The fire is still burning in the building, although they have it under control.

"It is a major incident, a major fire, given the number of fire officers at this. They will be there all night."

Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr said it was "a major fire involving two premises fronting onto three city centre streets".

"Crews were faced with a rapidly spreading fire involving the ground floor and main roof structure," he said.

"Local crews were quickly reinforced by other personnel from across the province."

Mr Kerr said resources in use at the scene include 15 pumping appliances, three aerial (high reach) appliances, two command support vehicles, one high volume pump and six other specialist appliances (including a specialist rescue team).

"Crews are systematically working to break through the roof structure for tactical ventilation and firefighting purposes," he said.

"Other crews are carrying out secondary search procedures of the adjoined residential premises."

Earlier, police said the fire appeared to be in a duct within the restaurant, and that the operation was "likely to continue for some time".

They added that the cause of the blaze has not been established yet.

Image caption Smoke is billowing from the scene of the blaze beside the River Foyle

The Chinese restaurant is also home to the Karma bar and makes up the bottom floor of an apartment block.

The road between Queens Quay roundabout and Harbour Square roundabout is also closed.

Image caption The smoke is continuing to drift across the city while firefighters work to put out the blaze

No casualties have been reported, but police have advised householders and businesses in the affected areas to keep their windows closed due to heavy smoke.

Earlier, Derry City manager Jim Roddy told BBC Radio Foyle that there was major traffic disruption.

"There is a lot of smoke billowing from the building and it looks like it's quite a serious incident that could take a long time to clear up," he said.

Image caption BBC Radio Foyle reporter Jenny Witt, who tweeted this picture of the fire, said the black smoke is billowing across the city
Image caption Fire crews at the scene of a fire on Queens quay in Derry

"It's probably one of the most major fires I've seen in the city in a long time, obviously the ongoing disruption will cause concern."

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