Tourist staying above Fitzroy’s ‘thankful to be alive’ after fire

A tourist caught up in the Fitzroy’s fire yesterday is grateful to the fire service but heartbroken for the staff and owners.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 12:14 pm
Fitzroy's restaurant in Bridge Street, Derry, suffered extensive fire damage on Monday morning. The fire is believed to have started in a store room. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2147GS – 025

Dubliner Anthony Kane was in Derry for the weekend and staying in digs above the restaurant when he realised something was badly wrong.

“I woke around 6am with the smell of something burning. We looked out the window and saw smoke billowing out of the building. I went downstairs and across the road and the fire brigade arrived.”

The IT worker and photographer - Anthony captured a series of photographs of fire fighters tackling the blaze which can be viewed here - said his immediate concern was that someone may have been staying in the apartment above but this proved not to be the case.

Fitzroy's restaurant in Bridge Street, Derry, suffered extensive fire damage on Monday morning. The fire is believed to have started in a store room. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2147GS – 024

“The fire brigade were getting suited and booted to go in and getting their oxygen tanks on. We watched them going in through the restaurant. What shocked us was when they came back out after trying to subdue the fire they were absolutely black. It was a really scary thing to witness. You could tell they were sweating after being through whatever was down in the basement. They were covered in black soot.”

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Firefighters bring accidental blaze under control; Fitzroy's damaged

“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used one hose reel and one jet to extinguish the fire. The incident was dealt with by 9.24am and the cause of the fire is being treated as accidental at this time,” the spokesperson firmed.

The fire caused a lot of smoke damage to Fitzroy’s which was gearing up for a busy Christmas period after a difficult two years due to COVID.

Fitzroy's restaurant in Bridge Street, Derry, suffered extensive fire damage on Monday morning. The fire is believed to have started in a store room. Firefighters also attended the adjoining Shake and Frappe premises on Carlisle Road. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2147GS – 026

The proprietors did not speak to the Press publicly yesterday but are understood to be devastated. Mr. Kane said his heart goes out to the staff and owners of the restaurant.

IN PICTURES: Fire in Derry city centre“It’s a really bad time of year for this to happen. It’s heartbreaking. They are not going to have work for Christmas,” he said. The Dubliner said he briefly spoke to the proprietors yesterday and was overwhelmed by their concern given what had just happened to their business.

“You could tell he was really disappointed about what had happened but I have to say about the Derry welcome - it’s my first time staying on non-business - but the owner turned around and his business was smouldering behind him and he was actually asking us how we got on our holiday. It was really indicitive of the Derry spirit.”

Mr. Kane hailed the hospitality of the staff of Synge and Byrne who provided hot drinks to evacuees of the buildings on Bridge Street and Carlisle Road.

“Synge and Byrne across the way came out and gave us teas and coffees when we were all standing there in 2 degrees,” he said.

He is full of praise for the fire service and feels that but for them there could have been a very different outcome.

“Once they put out the fire they were trying to get into the other buildings around to make sure there was nobody in there. Honestly we are really thankful we are alive and to the fire brigade. It could have been so much worse for so many more people. The fire brigade were brilliant. They went out of their way to make sure everyone was okay.”