Cork car park fire: Hundreds of vehicles trapped by blaze could take days to remove by crane
A blaze in a shopping-centre car park that left 60 cars damaged or gutted may have inflicted serious structural damage.
Because of the damage to level one of the multi-storey car park adjacent to Douglas Village Shopping in Co Cork, hundreds of cars parked on upper levels may have to be individually lifted out by special crane - a process that could take several days to complete.
The blaze, caused by a fire in a parked people carrier which spread to other vehicles, is feared to have inflicted damage that could run to millions of euro.
Manager of the centre Bartisz Mieszala paid tribute to his staff and the emergency services for dealing with the fire on Saturday night in such a professional manner.
"Obviously we were dealing with a major emergency," he said.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their patience. I want to thank Cork Fire Brigade, gardaí and everyone else involved for their quick response and the fantastic work they have done since Saturday evening.
"This could have been much worse without them and without the quick response of our own team here.
"The evacuation went off very quickly and very smoothly," he added.
Mr Mieszala said he is awaiting special reports from consultancy and engineering experts on the scale of the damage caused by the fire.
"At the moment a team of consultants and engineers are trying to establish where we are in relation to the building.
"For now, what we know is that it is not safe to enter. Even for ourselves. We are not allowed inside so we just have to wait for all the steel to cool down.
"We will know more within the next 24 hours."
He said tenants had no access to the shopping centre yesterday, and "most likely" will have no access today.
Mr Mieszala said staff have been posted to the entrances of the car park to deal with people whose cars are inside.
"Obviously, it is a major thing for them and we are sorry for that.
"We know for a fact we will not be able to drive the cars out - so they will more than likely have to be lifted (out of the car park)," he added.
It is believed a people carrier parked on level one of the car park caught fire and its fuel tank then exploded, spreading the fire to other parked cars.
The blaze quickly threatened to spread to nearby properties.