Galway hotel blaze blamed on chip pan in kitchen
A MASSIVE blaze that destroyed a large part of a well-known hotel started in a chip pan, investigators believe.
Firemen were still at the scene of the fire at the Shannon Oaks Hotel and Country Club in Portumna, Co Galway, last night after the blaze raged through the hotel for more than five hours.
Shocked staff members and locals watched as firemen battled low water pressure in an attempt to bring the flames under control.
The hotel employs 60 full-time and part-time workers and is a popular wedding reception venue. It is located on the banks of the Shannon alongside Portumna Forest Park, and for the past 12 months, it has been under the management of the Dalata Hotel Group, which also runs 10 hotels in the Maldron Hotels Group across the country.
The alarm was raised at about 1pm yesterday when staff reported a blaze in the kitchen.
After a quick assessment of the situation, management quickly evacuated up to 80 guests and staff members.
The evacuation went smoothly and five fire tenders from Galway, Loughrea and Tipperary rushed to the scene. Within a short time, the kitchen and adjoining rooms were on fire and the blaze spread upwards.
Over the next five hours, the rear of the hotel was destroyed and staff arriving for the afternoon shift were kept well back by gardai. One employee who declined to give her name said: ''I don't know what's going to happen our jobs now -- there are no other jobs and God knows when the hotel will open again."
By early evening the fire crews had finally got the blaze under control. Deputy chief executive of the Dalata Group, Stephen McNally said he was thankful for the fact that nobody had been hurt in the blaze.
"There were about 40 guests and a similar number of staff in the hotel at the time and there was no panic.
"Guests who were due to arrive later today are already being transferred to our other hotels in Galway."