A major fire at the Bord na Mona briquette factory in Littleton in the early hours of Sunday morning casued extensive damage to the well known plant which was saved from being burned to the ground by the magnificent efforts of firefighters from Thurles, Cashel, Clonmel and Templemore.
It took 31 fire fighters to bring the blaze under control and they worked from 6:30am until midday in a bid to ensure that the fire would not spread to the major storage units which contained tonnes of peat and briquettes. Had those units taken off, the situation would have been much more serious according to emergency personnel.
The alarm was raised by a worker at the plant and when the emergency services arrived from Thurles, a number of employees were doing their best to try and contain the fire. However, it quickly became evident that much more help was required and with a serious threat to the storage units imminent, it was decided to call in reinforcements from Cashel and Templemore, and eventually Clonmel.
The effort to bring the blaze under control was punishing as fire fighters had to scale six flights of stairs carrying breathing apparatus and hoses in order to get at the source of the fire - it is thought that the fire started in the production area where conveyor belts and electrical panels were destroyed and other ancilliary equipment was also extensively damanged.
The Tipperary Star understands that the production end of the plant had been closed down for the Christmas break prior to the fire breaking out.
Gardai attended the scene and following initial investigations, the fire is not being treated as suspicious.
A member of the emergency personnel told Tipperary Star that the efforts of the employees who worked so hard to keep the blaze controlled in the initial stages was a huge help. “The employees had done trojan work and when we arrived on the scene we were able to get a handle on the situation fairly quickly. It was a very substantial blaze and we required the assistance of Clonmel, Cashel and Templemore brigades to ensure that the storage sheds were safe from the fire. Had any of those sheds gone up, the situation would have been much more serious. We had 31 members working in very testing conditions and at one stage we had 23 of those men using breathing apparatus as they tried to contain the blaze. It was a serious fire, but thankfully we managed to bring it under control and there was nobody injured. It was tough going out there and it took a huge effort by the teams to regain control,” our source said.
It is understood that a full assessment of the damage caused will be undertaken in the coming days prior to the plant going back into full operation again after the Festive Season.
Meanwhile, Thurles fire and emergency personnel were back on duty again in the early hours of Monday morning last when a car overturned at Beakstown, Holycross resulting in three occupants being removed by ambulance to South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel.
The accident occurred at Reilly’s bend at approximately 1:50am and resulted in the car, containing three young occupants, crashing into a fence. The injuries sustained were described as being “not life threatening.”
The road was blocked for a time as Gardai and emergency personnel attended the scene and tended to the injured parties.