Staff praised for heroic chippy blaze actions

The scene outside Tommy's Chip shop on Friday night. (1610SJ4) Photo: Sheena Jackson
The scene outside Tommy's Chip shop on Friday night. (1610SJ4) Photo: Sheena Jackson

A Ballykelly businessman has praised his staff for their heroic actions during a weekend blaze at his chippy.

The fire at Tommy Hasson’s award-winning chip shop on Main Street broke out on Friday evening, causing “minimal” damage ,and the business was able to re-open on Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve been very lucky,” Mr Hasson told the ‘Journal’, just after fire crews had left the the scene on Friday. “All of the safety devices, like those for cutting off the gas and electricity and so on, they all kicked in and the girls were able to use the fire extinguisher and put it out very quickly. They acted very promptly. We were very lucky, and thanks to our safety equipment it’s been just superficial damage,” he said, adding praise for his quick-thinking staff and the NI Fire and Rescue Service.

“The Fire Service was here very quickly and did a tremendous job,” he said. “We’re very lucky and we had the local people too, offering to help. I suppose we are very lucky.”

NIFRS Area Commander, Trevor Ferguson said; “Thankfully the staff did exactly the right thing and had isolated the power supplies and had evacuated the building”.

“It was a small but difficult fire,” said Mr. Ferguson, explaining crews from Limavady attended and a specialist aerial appliance from Northland Station was also used.

“Fire never discriminates and people must do all they can to make their homes safe,” said Mr. Ferguson. “The staff did the right thing and their prompt actions contributed to this incident being contained.”

Dominic Hasson of Tommy’s Chip Shop said the fire looked a lot worse that it was.

“The flames seemed to extend through an extraction duct, and there was just a small bit of damage,” he said. “Cindy Thompson, one of our staff, acted very quickly and is a bit of a hero. All our procedures were in place and no one was injured, that’s the main thing. It’s upsetting, but we’ll be back on track soon!”

Working through the night, and with equipment and re-wiring completed early Saturday, the business was able to re-open by lunch time on Saturday.

“We were busy,” said Tommy, “but really there was little damage and it was cleaning up more than anything. It could have been 12 part and full-time staff, plus myself and Dominic, out of a job, so we are very lucky.”

East Derry SDLP MLA, John Dallat said; “The whole community is delighted the fire in Tommy’s famous chip shop in Ballykelly was controlled and the business is up and running again.

“This has been a landmark in the village for more than forty years and it would be unthinkable if it was to disappear, even for a short period of time. Great credit is due to the loyal staff who worked so hard to get the premises back to normal in such a short period of time. Thanks are also due to the Fire and Rescue Service and indeed all who provided help in what could have been a very serious situation.”

Mr. Dallat said the “risk of fire is always there in every home and the range of fire-fighting equipment that was available in Tommy’s is not present”.

“Are our smoke alarms working? Are we using electric blankets that have not been professionally checked regularly? Do we practice fire drill in the event of having to leave our homes by emergency exist?,” he asked.