independent

Monday 18 November 2019

Fire forces store evacuation

Firefighters work to bring the blaze at McCauley’s under control on Sunday
afternoon
Firefighters work to bring the blaze at McCauley’s under control on Sunday afternoon
A close-up of damage to the building

Pádraig Byrne

The doors of McCauley's pharmacy in Redmond Square remained closed yesterday (Monday) after a major fire there the day before. As many people sat down to watch the All-Ireland final, Wexford fire service were busy at work on the Redmond Square car park side of the building attempting to locate the source of a fire and deal with it accordingly.

Fire alarms could be heard echoing around the North end of the town just before 3 p.m. and customers and staff were immediately evacuated from the building.

In under ten minutes, the fire service were at the scene assessing the situation.

Two tenders from Wexford station were joined by one from Enniscorthy and one from New Ross and it was quickly established that the fire was inside the walls of the building behind the cladding.

The firefighters focused their efforts on the upstairs of the building and the sound of lump hammers beating against the wall echoed around the car park as a crowd of onlookers assembled. With each hole that was broken in the wall, a plume of smoke rose up into the sky as the crews lowered hoses into the cavities in a bid to dampen things down and quench the flames.

No flames were visible from the outside but the fire service used thermal imaging cameras to locate hot spots and break through the exterior wall in the right places.

Wearing all of their gear and breathing apparatus, swinging the huge hammers was energy sapping work.

With the crew taking it in turns, two firefighters with blackened faces discussed the heat in the upstairs rooms of the building as they took on some water before going again.

Gardaí were also quick on the scene and set about locating the owners of vehicles in the car park to clear a path so that a high rise lift could gain access to the front of the building.

The fire service were on the scene until 8.30 p.m. that night and it is currently believed that an electrical fault may be to blame for the blaze, however, this is subject to confirmation from the fire officer's report.

McCauley's CEO Tony McEntee confirmed that things could have been much worse and was full of praise for the quick thinking of his staff and the quick reactions of the emergency services.

'Our security guy Noel Pitman did a really fantastic job,' he said.

'He got the building evacuated, getting all our staff and customers out safely and deserves to be commended for his work. Similarly the response of the fire service and the gardaí was excellent. I think the level of professionalism and expertise that exists among the emergency services is often taken for granted, but they did a fantastic job.'

'There's no doubt about it, things could have been a lot worse. We have excellent procedures in place, but we also have excellent people like Noel Pitman.'

While in the quiet of the morning after, significant holes were visible to the rear of the building, the inside of the building seems to have escaped major damage.

'Internally, there was limited damage,' Tony confirmed.

'We would hope to have the shop back up and running quickly.'

'As for the medical centre, there was some smoke damage further up the building, so we'll have to wait and see.'

'The salon will probably be closed a little bit longer as a result of the smoke damage. We will try get everything back up and running as soon as possible. Obviously we have the GP and other practices upstairs so we're conscious that we need to get them back up and running as soon as we can.'

Wexford People

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