A SPOKESPERSON FOR the Galway Fire Service has said that around 50 per cent of the Shannon Oaks Hotel in Portumna, Co Galway was extensively damaged by a fire that broke out at lunchtime yesterday.
The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen area, the spokesperson told TheJournal.ie this morning. The blaze broke out around lunchtime yesterday and it took firefighters until 11pm last night to completely quench it. Members of the fire service were still on the scene this morning, clearing up and removing equipment.
The spokesperson said the other half of the hotel not gutted by the fire had suffered smoke and water damage. One staff member was treated for minor smoke inhalation following the outbreak of the fire but the rest of the staff and guests – totalling almost 80 people – were evacuated safely. Our picture, taken by TheJournal.ie reader Frank Mullins, shows the extent of the fire yesterday.
Stephen McNamara of the Dalata Group, which oversees 24 hotels in Ireland including the Shannon Oaks, said that three of the Oaks’ staff members were manning phone lines in Galway today to deal with customer enquiries. The number to call is 090 974 1777.
He said that while they had managed to make contact with most people who have upcoming bookings with the hotel, there were still a few who they hadn’t yet reached as their information was lost in the fire. The hotel had newly refurbished its function room and hosted a number of weddings this summer but said that there were no weddings booked in in the short-term.
McNamara said the hope was to rebuild the hotel and in the meantime there are still 39 two-bedroom apartments and 22 lodges still operating on the grounds. He said, “Portumna needs a hotel. We had a very busy July and August.”
The hotel was hosting two tour groups from Germany yesterday and they were moved to another hotel in Galway last night. Their luggage was recovered by firefighters. McNamara said:
We have to say the whole support system with the fire service was fantastic. The fire happened in the kitchen at lunchtime which just goes to show how quickly these things can spread. It really hammers home how damaging fire can be.
He said that the Group were still dealing with the immediate aftermath of the fire but that when it could establish a timeframe for rebuilding or otherwise, its priority would be to inform staff who are currently concerned about their job status.