Buncrana fire: ‘The heart of the town has been ripped out’

Sixty firefighters from Donegal and Derry tackled the blaze that extensively damaged buildings in Buncrana on Sunday night, it has been confirmed.

Donegal Fire Service responded to call at 9.37pm on Sunday night in relation to a fire at a commercial unit at Upper Main Street Buncrana. Four brigades from Donegal were mobilised supported by two units from the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. There were over 60 fire fighters fighting the blaze at its peak.

The scene in Buncrana on Monday morning. (Video courtesy of Christine Cooper)

The scene in Buncrana on Monday morning. (Video courtesy of Christine Cooper)

The fire was brought under control, however John Barr’s Drapery Shop and The Plaza Ballroom have been extensively damaged. The Excelsior Bar, which is next to the Plaza also sustained damage, although the extent has yet to be confirmed.

Peter McLaughlin, who runs the Excelsior Bar, told the Journal that everyone is still in “shock” following the fire.

He said he understands the bar has been water and smoke damaged but was waiting to be allowed entry to see how extensive this is.

In a statement on the Plaza Ballroom’s Facebook page, the daughter of Ursula McDaid, who managed the Plaza and out her “heart and soul” into it, said they had been devastated by the fire.

Sixty firefighters battled the blaze. Picture: Sadie Duffy

Sixty firefighters battled the blaze. Picture: Sadie Duffy

She said: “No words can even describe how we feel today, all of us have been inundated with texts and calls which all mean the world to us at this time, and will try respond to as many as we can over the coming days.

“The devastation we have for our mum today especially is one that every person that knows her feels also. From the hard work of the restoration alone is one she lived for. I’ve never seen another person believe in a building so much as what she did for the Plaza.

A huge loss to the community alone lastnight as The Plaza was always at the heart of the community.”

She continued: “‘The End Of An Era’ for thousands of people and this is what breaks our hearts the most.”

Many people have taken to social media to express their sadness at the fire and to also pay tribute to Ursula McDaid and John Barr for the contribution they have made to the community over the years.

Both buildings are iconic not just in Buncrana, but across Inishowen and the North West.

Donegal County Councillor Rena Donaghey said Buncrana had been left devastated for all those affected by the fire and said they would help “in any way they can” in the days ahead.

Couty Councillor Nicholas Crossan said the heart of the town had been “ripped out.”

All expressed relief that there was no loss of life.

Investigations are ongoing.

The Main Street in Buncrana is closed from West End to Market Square, Ferris lane and all footpaths at Upper Main Street are closed for public safety reasons. Diversions are in place and a number of businesses in the town remain closed.

Video courtesy of Christine Cooper.