Praise for quick response by Listowel fire service and gardaí that helped save much of the building.
Mayor of Listowel Cllr Aoife Thornton is hopeful that some facilities will re-open at Listowel Community Centre as soon as possible in the wake of the devastating blaze on Wednesday morning that caused significant damage to the building.
Thanks to the quick response of Listowel Fire Service and gardaí following the emergency call at around 1.15am, much of the building and its facilities, which include a newly renovated gym, were not damaged by the blaze.
The fire ripped through a part of the roof before it was brought under control by fire crews, who have been praised for their actions.
"I would like to thank the fire service and the gardaí for their bravery and speedy intervention, which has helped limit the damage we are dealing with today,” said Cllr Thornton.
Fire units from Listowel were joined by units from Tralee, Ballybunion and Castleisland as they battled the blaze.
Significant damage was caused to the older part of the building, where a section of the gym is located upstairs; and to the sauna and changing rooms. The full extent of the damage is not yet known, but insurance assessors are at the scene today.
The newer part of the gym – which has seen significant investment in facilities in recent years – was not damaged in the blaze.
Mayor Thornton said the incident is a shock for the community and that her thoughts are with manager Tony Duggan and staff, who have put their ‘heart and soul’ into developing the facility.
She said the community centre is the hub of the local town, and in recent years, under Mr Duggan's management, it has developed and grown.
Cllr Thornton is relieved that nobody was injured.
"It is a great asset to the community, and anything that can be done will be done to get the centre open,” she said.
"It is absolutely devastating, but I am hopeful some parts can be re-opened while the damaged sections are being rebuilt. We are lucky that the blaze was kept under control, and while there is significant damage, the blaze was contained quickly.”
While the exact cause of the fire is not yet known, it is believed it may have been the result of an electrical fault on the upper floor of the facility.
Management at the centre have said that it will be closed for the foreseeable future.
"There is quite a bit of damage. We have no idea yet how long we will be closed for,” said manger Tony Duggan.
Councillors sympathised with management and staff during a Listowel Municipal District meeting this morning.
Fine Gael Cllr Mike Kennelly described the brave efforts of the fire fighters as ‘absolutely brilliant’. Sinn Féin Cllr Tom Barry gave thanks for the fact that no one was in the building at the early hour: “Thanks be to God. The story could always have been worse. They will build again...there’s a great committee there, with a lot of great staff. The Community Centre is the heartbeat of Listowel, a very important part of our town.”