FLO­REN­TINE BLAZE ‘ISN’T SUS­PI­CIOUS’

BRAY HIT BY SEV­ERAL FIRES – TWO AT TRADERS’ PREMISES ON MAIN STREET AND ONE AT A HOME ON GALTRIM ROAD

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS - By MARY FOGARTY

GARDAI IN BRAY have said that there is noth­ing to in­di­cate that a fire in a three-storey build­ing on Bray’s Main Street last week was sus­pi­cious.

The blaze broke out in the early hours of Fri­day morn­ing, claim­ing the Flo­ren­tine Bar, Hilton’s Phar­macy and the of­fices of Maguire McNiece solic­i­tors.

The area re­mained sealed off un­til Fri­day even­ing as the fire still raged. The fire ser­vice re­turned to the scene on Mon­day af­ter­noon as the fire was smoul­der­ing again. They gained ac­cess from the laneway to the rear of the Flo­ren­tine bar, with the en­trance on Quins­boro Road.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Pat Ward of Bray Garda Sta­tion said that gar­daí will be car­ry­ing out a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Their op­er­a­tion at the time of the fire in­volved clos­ing the street and as­sist­ing the fire ser­vice in en­sur­ing the safety of the pub­lic and traf­fic.

Busi­nesses along the Main Street and some on Quins­boro Road were shut on Fri­day as power to their premises was cut dur­ing the op­er­a­tion.

‘The fire ser­vice re­ally take charge of the fire scene un­til the fire is fully ex­tin­guished and we as­sist them,’ said Supt Ward. ‘Then when they are fin­ished we take up the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It’s a joint ef­fort to make every­one safe.’

Dis­trict Ad­min­is­tra­tor of Bray Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict David Forde said that while there were ini­tially wor­ries that the fire would en­croach on the site of the Flo­ren­tine shop­ping cen­tre, this did not oc­cur.

He said that the premises of the cen­tre it­self is a dis­tance away from the cur­tilage of the site, and that work con­tin­ued on Fri­day.

Chief fire of­fi­cer Aidan Dempsey said that emer­gency ser­vices re­ceived a 999 call at around 1.30 a.m. on Fri­day, re­port­ing the fire at the Flo­ren­tine bar.

Fire crews from Bray and Grey­stones were im­me­di­ately mo­bilised and the Bray fire crew was first on the scene at 1.37 a.m.

On ar­rival, smoke and flames were vis­i­ble to fire fight­ers at the en­trance to the Flo­ren­tine Bar which is part of a three-storey build­ing on the Main Street.

While there was no one in the build­ing, res­i­dents of an ad­ja­cent apart­ment were evac­u­ated for their safety.

Ini­tially the crew from Bray fought the fire from the front of the build­ing while the fire crew from Grey­stones fought the fire from a rear laneway. The in­ci­dent com­man­der mo­bilised the fire crew from Wick­low town to pro­vide a hy­draulic plat­form which was ca­pa­ble of fight­ing the fire from above.

The fire was quickly con­tained within build­ing but it was dif­fi­cult to fully ex­tin­guish due to the age and lay­out of the build­ing.

The crews from Grey­stones and Wick­low town left the scene at 9 a.m. to be re­placed by a fire crew from Rath­drum who were as­sist­ing at the scene and im­me­di­ately avail­able to re­spond to any other in­ci­dents in the Bray area.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, there were two fire crews (Bray and Rath­drum), a hy­draulic plat­form (Wick­low town) and a water tanker from Grey­stones at the scene.

‘SAD WAY TO START THE NEW YEAR’

Busi­ness neigh­bour Liz-Anne Wool­lam (Mol­loy) said that she and her staff, and the en­tire busi­ness com­mu­nity were sad­dened by the fire.

‘We are dev­as­tated for our neigh­bours,’ said Liz-Anne, who is the pro­pri­etor of Liz-Anne’s Café across the road from The Flo­ren­tine. ‘They have been won­der­ful busi­ness peo­ple in Bray, and cus­tomers of ours for many years,’ she said.

‘We re­ally want to send all of our best wishes to Joe and his staff, and to the won­der­ful staff of Hil­tons and the Flo­ren­tine bar. It’s just a ter­ri­bly sad way to start the new year for ev­ery­body.’

A large crowd of on­look­ers ob­served the fire ser­vice work through­out Fri­day, from the op­po­site side of the street. ‘All them jobs will be lost now. At least there’s no­body burned in the fire,’ said one wo­man.

‘There’s no lives lost, that’s the main thing,’ said a man watch­ing from the foot­path. ‘You can al­ways re­place build­ings. The fire fight­ers are here since 1.30 in the morn­ing and are do­ing amaz­ing­work.’

GES­TURE BY NEIGH­BOUR­ING BUSI­NESS

In the af­ter­math of the blaze, a neigh­bour­ing busi­ness of­fered its own premises to Hilton’s phar­macy to use as a hub un­til they make more per­ma­nent ar­range­ments.

A spokes­woman for Hilton’s said that while staff and man­age­ment re­main shocked, they are blown away by the kind­ness they have re­ceived from the com­mu­nity.

She said that they have been work­ing out of their Cor­nelscourt store and that staff will be at the hub in Bray Mon­day to Satur­day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

‘We are also try­ing to set up de­liv­er­ies,’ she said, adding that they had been able to get most of the files out un­dam­aged.

‘We are all dev­as­tated but so thank­ful to every­one for their pa­tience and over­whelm­ing sup­port.

‘You hear about these things then when it hap­pens you re­alise you’re part of such an amaz­ing com­mu­nity.’

She said that owner Carl Hilton would like to ex­tend his thanks to the fire fight­ers and gar­daí for their brav­ery and pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

Pink Bomb moved all of their stock into the Fitz­mau­rice’s The Feel Good Phar­macy on Quins­boro Road, va­cat­ing their store for the chemist af­fected by the fire.

‘To pre­serve the jobs and help Hilton’s phar­macy to serve the com­mu­nity, Pink Bomb has de­cided to give our space to them for the time be­ing,’ said a spokesper­son for the busi­ness. ‘It was a last-minute de­ci­sion and every­thing hap­pened quickly.

‘How­ever, Pink Bomb is not gone for­ever. We are try­ing our best to find a new lo­ca­tion. For now, most of the stock has been moved to Fitz­mau­rece’s The Feel Good Phar­macy.’

They are also seek­ing a lo­ca­tion to hold work­shops.

Solic­i­tors Maguire McNiece have moved into of­fices at 5A Quins­boro Road. A spokesman for the Flo­ren­tine bar said that they were ‘dev­as­tated’ to lose the pub.

‘THE FIRE BRI­GADE WERE SU­PERB’

So­lic­i­tor Joe Maguire found out about the fire at the build­ing at 1.30 a.m. on Fri­day, as soon as it broke out.

‘It was a to­tal shock. The main thing is the fire bri­gade were su­perb. They did a very thor­ough job evac­u­at­ing peo­ple,’ said Joe, who works along­side fel­low so­lic­i­tor Paddy McNeice.

‘There are res­i­dents in the premises be­side us. We were con­cerned about them, they were lit­er­ally go­ing around in their night­clothes. Gardai I think got ac­com­mo­da­tion for them and thank­fully no­body was hurt.’

Joe said that so many peo­ple had been wish­ing him well and com­mis­er­at­ing through­out the day. ‘It is very re­as­sur­ing,’ he said.

‘We were very lucky, our sys­tems seem to have worked. We have a com­puter backup which down­loads each night and it down­loaded last night be­fore the ac­tual fire.

‘That was our con­cern, and it is right up to date. So that’s all stored some­where in the cloud.

‘Now we need to get some­where where our staff can work and get on with their jobs. There are around 14 in the of­fice, then with the phar­macy and pub there are a lot of jobs.

‘It’s a pri­or­ity now to get the place back up and run­ning as quickly as pos­si­ble.’ Be­fore be­ing ac­com­mo­dated in Quins­boro Road premises, the Grey­stones of­fice was able to man­age calls from clients.

‘The gardai and the fire bri­gade were just so ef­fi­cient,’ said Joe. ‘The way they acted in terms of safety, blocked off the street. It’s in­ter­est­ing to see it, although I’d pre­fer to look at it in films!’

Joe said that their col­leagues in the le­gal pro­fes­sion had been very sup­port­ive and gen­er­ous in their of­fers of help.

Ex­am­in­ing the dam­age the morn­ing af­ter the fire at the Flo­ren­tine Bar.

Fire­fight­ers tack­ling the fire at the Flo­ren­tine Bar, Hilton’s Phar­macy and the of­fices of Maguire McNiece solic­i­tors.

Emer­gency ser­vices at fire at Peter’s.

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