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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 September, 2018
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'We don't have anything else... Everything's gone': Entire homes destroyed in Ballymun fire

Residents and guests were left picking up the pieces after a huge blaze ripped through a Dublin building.

The aftermath of the blaze.
The aftermath of the blaze.
Image: Cormac Fitzgerald.

Updated at 2.53pm

ADEEL BASHIR AND Anita Dokerte stood this morning looking up at their destroyed home on the 13th floor of the Metro Hotel building in Ballymun.

Last night, a huge fire ripped through the top part of the 16-floor building – which is made up of the 88 rooms of the Metro Hotel and 30 private apartments on the upper floors.

Dublin Fire Brigade were alerted to the blaze at about 8pm, and crews battled all night before it was extinguished.  No one was injured in the fire – but the upper levels were destroyed.

This includes the 13th floor where the fire broke out, and where Adeel and Anita have lived for the past three years with their two children (ages seven and five).

“I was actually at work and I found out [when] one of my friends rang me so I rang her,” Adeel said today outside the building.

Anita was in the shops, and both were very thankful that the family had gotten out of the building safely. But their entire home was destroyed.

“Everything is there. I don’t have any other clothes – she doesn’t have any other clothes. We have two kids, they are staying with friends now,”

“Everything, everything. We don’t have anything else only these clothes and that’s it.

Everything’s gone.

The fire

After breaking out on the 13th floor the fire spread quickly to at least five floors of the building.

The blaze lit up the night sky around Santry Cross in Ballymun. At least 12 fire units and more than 60 firefighters attended the scene at its peak.

Crews fought to keep the fire contained throughout the night, and residents of the upper apartments and guests of the Metro Hotel were quickly evacuated.

The building had around 200 people in it at the time, with residents and hotel guests temporarily rehoused in the function room of the nearby Crowne Plaza and others in the Carlton Hotel.

original (15) Fire crews battling the blaze last night. Source: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

This morning, a single fire engine with a small crew remained and the area was sealed off with gardaí present.

The busy Ballymun Road was reopened, but Santry Avenue – where the hotel sits – was closed off to traffic.

The 13th floor of the building – clearly visible from the road – was charred and blackened with the windows blown out. The 10th floor of the building was also badly damaged but the fire didn’t spread to the 11th and 12th floors.

One couple – who had been staying at the hotel – arrived back this morning in search of the belongings they had left behind when the building was evacuated.

James and Theresa Keane – originally from Ireland but living in New York for the past 50 years – had been staying in the hotel before they were due to fly out from Dublin Airport this morning.

James is a renowned accordion player and his most prized possession – a signature-made limited edition accordion called the keanebox – was left behind in the room.

Someone was able to retrieve the accordion for him this morning undamaged, and he held it close, happy to have it back.

“We were in the room on the fourth floor… and I made a silly mark to Theresa like, ‘God, do you hear those sirens? There’s something very New York-ish about it.’,” James told TheJournal.ie.

But we noticed they were coming to our building and the next thing they came and told us to get out so we put on our clothes.

“We left our passports, our telephones, I’m a diabetic and I recently and a quintuple open heart bypass and obviously we have plenty of medicine but we left all of that after us also,” said James.

James said they were taken to the nearby Crowne Plaza where they were put up for the night.

“They put out cots in a function room and they couldn’t have been nicer, because it was freezing cold and they took us in and they gave us breakfast this morning,” he said.

IMG_20180322_095035 James Keane talking to reporters.

As well as his prized accordion, the couple got their medicine and important documents from the hotel this morning.

Investigation 

Investigations into the cause of the fire are due to start today

“At this stage the fire is well out and we’ll be commencing an investigation later,” Dublin Fire Brigade’s Chief Fire Officer Patrick Fleming told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland earlier.

What I’d like to do is to assure the public that this was not a Grenfell Tower type of fire, but it does raise the issue of what people need to do when there is a fire.

original (2) Glass exploded outwards in some of the rooms due to increased pressure in the rooms caused by the fire. Source: Dublin Fire Brigade

In a statement released this evening, hotel management said that the hotel would remain closed for the foreseeable future.

“Metro Hotel wishes to apologise to hotel patrons and guests that the hotel is currently closed, and will remain closed for some time, following a fire,” management said.

“The key focus of hotel staff today is to notify inbound guests and to source alternative accommodation for tenants and guests, with whom we will be liaising throughout today.

“Unfortunately, guest and tenant access to personal belongings located in the hotel/apartments is restricted until clearance is received from emergency services. We will provide regular updates as they become available.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. No decision can be made about a hotel re-opening date until the cause of the fire has been established and all safety considerations have been thoroughly assessed.

Local councillor Noeleen Reilly – who was also present outside the building this morning – said that it was important to ascertain what exactly had happened to cause such a big blaze.

“I’d have concerns that [the fire] did spread quite fast and debris did drop down from one of the top floors,” Reilly told TheJournal.ie.

“It took a lot for Dublin Fire Brigade to bring it under control.

Obviously there will have to be an investigation into how it started and going forward is it safe and are buildings like this safe.

IMG_20180322_100119 Councillor Noeleen Reilly outside the front of the building this morning.

Reilly said that the fire was “a huge blow” to the area but that it was “a miracle” that no one was injured.

“Dublin Fire Brigade did a phenomenal job doing what they did,” she said.

Unfortunately [the people in] the 30 apartments are going to have nowhere to go now in the coming days and weeks and months until we really assess the damage.

This was the main concern worrying Adeel Bashir and Anita Dokerte this morning as they stared up at their destroyed home.

The couple had their two children are staying with friends at the moment, but right now they have no idea where they are going to live.

“We don’t really know. We rang the manager [of the apartment complex] there… He’s a good guy so hopefully he’ll arrange something,” said Adeel, as he held Anita close.

anita Anita and Adeel staring up at their home.

“We’re homeless at the moment,” she said.

Read: ‘This is not a Grenfell Tower type of fire’: Investigations to begin after Dublin block blaze

Read: No reports of casualties as major fire rages at building complex in north Dublin city

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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