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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Man lucky to escape with his life in shop blaze

Allison Bray and Louise Kelly

Published 15/07/2014 | 18:50

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Members of the Wicklow fire service at a fire in Castle Street Bray this evening.
Pic:Mark Condren
15.7.2014
Members of the Wicklow fire service at a fire in Castle Street Bray this evening. Photo: Mark Condren
Members of the Wicklow fire service at a fire in Castle Street Bray this evening.
Pic:Mark Condren
15.7.2014
Members of the Wicklow fire service at a fire in Castle Street Bray this evening. Photo: Mark Condren
Credit: Twitter/@GavinDowd1

A MAN was lucky to escape with his life after the shop below his flat and a number of commercial premises were destroyed in a massive blaze this evening.

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The man, who is believed to be Polish, was sleeping in an apartment above a shop in the Dargle Centre on Castle Street in Bray, Co Wicklow when the fire broke out around 4:40pm.

Eyewitness Peadar Smyth, who owns the Four Star Pizza in the centre, said the distraught owner of the cycling shop raced upstairs to alert the man who was asleep and unaware of the fire.

Thankfully, he got the man out before the fire intensified and spread to neighbouring businesses in the complex, he said.

“He got out just in time,” he told the Irish Independent. “But he didn’t even realise the building was on fire.”

Mr Smyth said that if it wasn’t for a sudden change in wind direction, his store would have been destroyed as well.

“We’re right next door. If the wind blew our way, we’d be wiped out,” he said.

“At 5pm, it was looking very dodgy.”

At 10.30pm the fire was still burning. More than a hundred locals watched the drama unfold.

“The fire still keeps raging and raging,” he said. “There’s black smoke billowing out. It looks like they’ll be here for most of the night.”

Mr Smyth said about half a dozen businesses in the complex were destroyed in the blaze, including a Polish supermarket, the cycling shop, a hairdressers’ and a health food shop.

A spokesman for the Wicklow Fire Service said four units of the Bray Fire Brigade are at the scene, including a water tanker from the Greystones Fire Brigade.

He was unable to confirm the number of buildings that were destroyed in the blaze. But he said he didn’t believe there were any injuries.

The fire was initially reported as a rubbish fire in a container located in a laneway beside the pizza shop.

 However when firefighters arrived on the scene, they upgraded it to a fullscale industrial fire.

“The cause and the scale of the fire is to be assessed,” he said.

Meanwhile, a gorse fire in Bray caused significant delays to commuters this evening.

The wind on the Wicklow coast was making the fire fighters' task difficult.

“The weather at this time of year means that a fire like this is not particularly unusual,” a fire brigade source said.

“However, we could be up there all night as the wind keeps blowing the fire on to other areas of gorse.”

Castle street remains closed as emergency services deal with the fire.

Gardai have asked motorists to avoid the town centre. Visibility is still poor in the area, according to AA Roadwatch.

DART services are back operating as normal this evening. Earlier, trains were not running between Bray and Greystones.

Meanwhile Dublin Bus has said "all services in the area will divert via Dargle Road in both directions".

Independent.ie's Joyce Fegan tweeted earlier: "Fire in Bray so bad that smoke can be seen from Killiney also separate fire on Bray Head. Zero visibility as you enter."

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