Cost of Oban blaze could soar as high as £5 million
THE COST of the fire at the largest council depot in Oban, Lorn and the Isles is likely to be valued at ‘ higher than £ 5 million’.
The damage was done after a large industrial unit was destroyed along with technical equipment used by Argyll and Bute Council’s roads and amenity services directorate.
Criminality has not been ruled out by Police Scotland, but the site has been handed back to the local authority as it is in such a dangerous condition it would be unsafe for accident investigators to enter the area in order to carry out any further investigation.
It is understood the local authority will be required to demolish the building as the fire extensively damaged the entire area.
The fire broke out shortly after 1.30am on Friday and at one point more there were more than 50 firefighters on the scene.
Appliances rushed to Oban from across the west of Scotland.
Firefighters used water jets to stop the fire spreading.
Further appliances were then mobilised to the scene from Lochgilphead, Inveraray, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy, Tarbert and Milngavie, as well as a high-reach appliance from Oban.
Firefighters were made aware of acetylene cylinders, which they cooled as they continued to tackle the blaze.
There were no casualties or fatalities and the area did not require to be evacuated. However, residents were concerned about the close proximity of the fire to the town’s gas supply.
The incident was gradually scaled down but firefighters were still at the scene on Friday evening.
Station manager Lawson Elliot, the incident commander, said: ‘Our crews have dealt with a significant fire. We had 30 firefighters tackling the blaze at its height, with two water jets and a water tower.’
Firefighters were on the scene for more than 12 hours before handing the area back to Police Scotland. At that point it was considered ‘a crime scene’.
Police stayed on the scene until late on Monday afternoon when it was decided the area could be handed back to council officers.
Inspector Mark Stephen, from Oban police station, thanked everyone who was at the scene and confirmed that while the depot had been handed back to the council, the area was still considered a crime scene.
A local woman, who did not want to be named, said: ‘It woke me up at 1.30am when one of the canisters exploded. I saw the council yard was ablaze and I called 999.
‘There were four or five explosions an hour or an hour-and-ahalf later.
‘The flames were very high up in the sky. It was just a mass of flames. The flames were above the house.
‘The police said they were not going to evacuate and firefighters had the fire under control at 2.30am.
‘What worried me was one of the canisters landed. You heard a bang, and I saw a flame go up.’
A council spokesman confirmed that the depot held various pieces of equipment vital to the roads and bin services in the area. The keys for all the bin lorries, for example, were in the depot office and were lost.
The spokesman said: ‘We are currently in the process of obtaining replacement keys for our bin lorries.’
The local authority drafted in vehicles from throughout the area to undertake extra bin collections over the weekend.
An Argyll and Bute Council spokesman confirmed that loss adjusters would be in the area on Wednesday and today, Thursday.
Alternative arrangements can be found on www.obantimes.co.uk.
The blaze was so fierce it left the buildings gutted, main picture. Top right, the blaze at its full height was captured by reader Hugh Wilson, while photographer Kevin McGlynn pictured the battle to control the flames.