Douglas Shopping Centre car park fire: Area evacuated and up to a dozen cars destroyed
AN AREA around a Cork shopping centre was evacuated and up to a dozen cars have been destroyed after a vehicle exploded after apparently catching fire in a multi-storey car park.
Eight units Cork City Fire Brigade battled the blaze at the Douglas Village Shopping Centre in the heart of Douglas on Cork's southside after the fire which erupted shortly before 7pm on Saturday evening.
Initial indications are that a people carrier somehow caught fire inside the multi-storey car park.
Thick black smoke was spotted pouring from the parking area before a loud explosion was heard.
Flames from the burning vehicle then spread to other parked cars which then caught fire.
Luckily, no one was injured in the incident which is being treated as an accidental blaze.
No one was injured in the incident with pedestrians and shoppers quickly evacuated from the area by emergency services.
The fire occurred in a multi-storey parking area not far from popular stores including TK Max, Marks and Spencer as well as Tesco.
Multiple units of Cork Fire Brigade were deployed to control the blaze and prevent it from spreading.
Gardaí attended the scene and closed off streets in Douglas adjacent to where fire fighters were battling the inferno.
Cork Fire Brigade officials used social media to urge people to avoid the area.
"Large fire in Douglas Shopping Centre. Several units from around the city in attendance," one Tweet stressed.
"Crews working very hard in heavy smoke and fire conditions to contain the fire. Please avoid the area to allow crews to access the building".
A plume of thick black smoke was visible for 2km away from Douglas.
Motorists on the busy N40 South Link Road drove through thick smoke which had drifted from the fire site.
Gardaí warned people to avoid the Douglas village area and said that congestion could impact as far away as both Rochestown and Togher.
In aid the work of fire fighters, Gardaí closed both the east and west slip roads into Douglas from the South Link.
Road closures were expected to remain in place for some time.
Douglas was very busy at the time with families and shoppers heading home or going to local pubs and restaurants.
Local Councillor Deirdre Forde urged people to pray for the Douglas community.
The Fine Gael representative said: "I'm very upset bus businesses in Douglas Shopping Centre. Anyone with respiratory problems please stay away and close windows.
"There's plenty of times for questions, right now businesses are devastated, staff are worried about jobs and firemen are risking their lives to put out the fire.
"The people of Douglas are only recovering from the terrible flood some years ago and now this. Spare a prayer."
Cork TD Michael McGrath noted the plume of black smoke which was visible from some distance away.
"The view from Ballinlough this evening of that fire in Douglas. Hopefully no one has been injured," he Tweeted as he posted a photo of billowing black smoke.
Forensic experts and engineers are expected to inspect the section where the fire started on Sunday.