Workers evacuated as fire destroys plant

A man in his 60s has died after a fire in a mobile home near Inveran, Co Galway

Ciara Galvin and Sam Griffin

Workers at an agricultural plant in Co Mayo had to be evacuated when a massive fire broke out.

The incident occurred at McHales Engineering factory, just outside Ballinrobe, on the N84 road linking Castlebar and Galway before 6pm yesterday.

Thick plumes of black smoke could be seen billowing from the factory for miles around. The fire is thought to have started in the paint shop area of the building with strong gusts of wind causing the blaze to spread quickly.

Gardaí confirmed there were no injuries.

Four fire brigade units and three ambulances initially responded when the alarm was raised. Emergency services took two hours to bring the blaze under control, as gardaí controlled traffic.

Nearby residents said they heard a series of explosions at the scene, but gardaí were unable to confirm this.

"It's a mess. To think of a business that was built up over 30 years to be gone up in flames," one onlooker said.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan said the building had "suffered extensive damage".

"The emergency services worked hard to extinguish the blaze and got control of it very quickly," he said.

McHale Engineering was established by brothers Martin and Padraic McHale and was the largest employer in the town, with more than 250 workers.