Cost of Oban blaze could soar as high as £5 mil­lion

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

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.

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