Firefighters battle blaze for hours as five buildings are hit
GARDA forensic experts will today try to establish the cause of a major fire that hit five buildings and sent a huge plume of smoke over Dublin city centre last night.
The blaze started in New York Dry Cleaners on the ground floor of a four-storey building on Middle Abbey Street near O'Connell Street about 9pm and quickly took hold.
Firefighters were still tackling the outbreak hours after it began.
Two turntable ladders were brought in to battle the blaze from above the roof tops.
A total of six fire engines, two water tankers, and an ambulance were also sent to the scene.
Buildings were searched to make sure no one was inside but no evacuations were necessary.
A woman who was leaving work at a publishing company above the launderette when the blaze started told how she heard an alarm going off, looked through a shutter and saw flames. She then alerted the emergency servicers.
Fire units were quickly on the scene with four fire engines and a turntable ladder but called for back-up immediately.
The ground floor of the cleaners collapsed into the basement. The blaze shot up through the building into the roof. The fire then spread to three storage buildings at the back of the launderette.
There was extensive smoke and water damage to an adjoining building that houses a clothes shop on the ground floor.
An employee of the shop said it had been completely destroyed by smoke and water.
The senior fire officer on the scene John Keogh said there was "extensive damage" to the launderette and the three buildings at the rear.
"They're all pretty much gutted from the ground floor pretty much up to the roof. There was no saving those - they were gone," he said.
He said that for hours firefighters remained in "defensive mode" as they fought the fire from outside the buildings
The City Council was called in to boost water pressure after firefighters realised that pressure in the area was getting dangerously low.
Bord Gais and the ESB cut off gas in the area and moved overhead power lines away from the fire.
Annette Riordan, a colleague of the woman who raised the alarm, said last night she feared her office had been destroyed. "My office looks to have been destroyed but I don't know yet.
"We were told initially that the floor of the New York Dry Cleaners collapsed into the basement. They were hosing into the basement to try and contain it," she added.
The Red Line Luas service from Tallaght to Connolly station only operated as far as Smithfield last night as tram lines ran past the scene of the fire.
But a spokesperson said they hoped to have a full service operational as usual at 5.30am today.