Northern Ireland

Fire at asylum seeker building believed to be accidental

The area around the scene of the fire remained cordoned off on Tuesday morning. (Niall Carson/PA)

Initial investigations into a fire at a building being used in part to house asylum seekers in Co Donegal indicate the blaze was accidental.

Five people, including a child, were rescued from an apartment in the building at Main Street in Buncrana when the fire broke out shortly after 1am on Tuesday. The blaze was confined to one room in the apartment above Buncrana’s Bella Forno restaurant.

A number of people were taken to Letterkenny University Hospital for treatment for possible smoke inhalation. However, no major injuries were reported.

The area around the building remained closed off on Tuesday morning while fire investigators completed a technical examination of the scene. However, Gardaí said preliminary investigations indicated that the blaze was unlikely to have been started through “malicious intent”.

Tensions around accommodation being used by refugees and asylum seekers in the Republic have been raised recently following a number of arson attacks.

Inishowen Sinn Féin councillor, Jack Murray praised fire fighters who attended the scene. Mr Murray said their actions had saved the lives of five people. He told Highland Radio that all five people rescued from the fire were expected to fully recover.

“We could have been dealing with a really extreme tragedy had it not been for the quick and heroic actions of the local fire service who in reacting with bravery and with professionalism had got people out.” the councillor said.

“I understand those people had been trapped in the building and if it hadn’t been for the fire service entering the building and bringing those people to safety, this would have been a much different story.”