A Derry business man has said he will lose thousands of pounds worth of trade as a result of the Queen’s Quay fire.
Ronan Stewart is the co-owner of RoCo Hair and Beauty Salon on the Strand Road and the business premises was one of the first to be evacuated when the fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon.
“I saw the damage done to the restaurant behind our building and to be honest it looks like it’s been completely gutted.
“I don’t know when I will be able to move our staff back in and the more days we remain closed the more money we will lose.
“We employ 17 people here at RoCo - my concern is for my costumers and my staff.”
Despite the damage to his own business, Mr. Stewart sent a message of support to the owner of the restaurant where the fire is believed to have started.
“I really feel for poor Stan Lee (owner of the Mandarin Karma Restaurant). His place took most of the damage - I hope he’s back on his feet sooner rather than later.”
When the fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon Mr. Stewart’s salon was full of clients.
“When the smoke started coming in we had to leave immediately. Thanks to the North West Regional College we were able to move our clients to their building where we were able to finish off their hair appointments but in terms of the short-term future I don’t know.
“I have commend people like Jim Roddy from the City Centre Initiative who was straight on the phone to me telling me he would do everything he could to get us temporary premises. The community spirit from other business people in Derry has been amazing,” he said.
The fire at the Mandarin Karam Restaurant was decribed by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service as a “major incident” and although the fire started on Wednesday afternoon it was not deemed over until 5pm yesterday evening.
Specialist vehicles - including aerial ladders and those used by search and rescue teams – were involved in what was one of the largest such incidents in the city for many years.
Large numbers of fire-fighters and over 20 different appliances were required to deal with the incident that began with the first emergency call at 12.53pm on Wednesday.
The initial fire in the kitchen spread to ducting within the restaurant, the main part of the premises and into the adjacent Karma restaurant which was also badly damaged.
I really feel for poor Stan Lee (owner of the Mandarin Karma Restaurant). His place took most of the damage - I hope he’s back on his feet sooner rather than laterRonan Stewart - RoCo
The first crews on the scene deployed two fire-fighters in breathing apparatus (BAs) with one hose reel jet and when it was found the ground floor was badly smoke logged, further resources with two teams of two fire-fighters in BAs were added to search the area.
Soon afterwards the adjacent two blocks of five storey apartments were evacuated and crews worked to provide a fire stop on both sides of the main fire. The number of appliances was then increased further to a total of eight.
To make further (BAs) wearers available, the order was given to ‘make pumps 15’ and with three aerial appliances, the rescue tender, two command support units, a high volume water pump and the NIFRS specialist rescue team vehicle, that meant 23 appliances were called into use.
Senior officers, including Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr oversaw the operation at the scene with resources being brought from many different parts of the North Ireland, including Belfast, as well as being tasked to stand-by in stations where crews had been committed to the incident. This was to maintain continuous fire cover.
At its height, 130 fire-fighters were involved in the incident that also required relief crews to be used.
The final tally by the time of the ‘Stop’ message at 12.03pm yesterday was 30 BAs used and 11 jets had been used.
Although damage was extensive to the premises involved, especially from smoke, there were no injuries reported.