Laois fire crews fought three major fires this week at three landmark buildings allowed to become derelict.
Two fires occured in Portlaoise town centre, the other in Ballinakill.
The old County Hotel on Portlaoise’s lower main street went ablaze yesterday, Monday June 8.
Smoke was spotted billowing out of the roof of the old hotel by the manager of Keegan’s Bar across the road, Paddy Reilly, who rang the emergency services just after 1pm.
It was a timely call as smoke wasa turning to flames on the roof just as firecrews began tackling the blaze.
Laois Fire Service crews from Portlaoise, Stradbally and Mountmellick, wearing breathing apparatus, smashed the old hotel’s door, windows and roof to access the building and extinguish the fire.
Ramsbottom’s pub next door was evacuated and fire crews worked in that building, where smoke was also coming out of the upstairs windows.
Crews were still working to ensure the fire was out at 3pm yesterday.
Chief Fire Officer Declan Power reported that the fire “looks accidental”.
The owner of the building is understood to be living in England.
The County Arms was closed in 1994,
Meanwhile another derelict building was the site of another fire last weekend.
The derelict Presentation Order convent on Church Avenue, Portlaoise was the scene of a fire at 10pm last Sunday night, June 7
Portlaoise fire crew fought the blaze. There was “a reasonable amount of fire in the building, with significant damage inside,” the Chief Fire Officer reported.
A large hole at the top of a stairwell by the fire service, was noted as one of the dangers of fighting fires in derelict buildings.
The convent is vacant for some years, and now derelict.
It is however on the Record of Protected Structures, despite a request by the Presentation Provincialate to remove it from that list, to allow for redevelopment in 2012.
Early last Wednesday morning, June 10, the fire service was called to another derelict hotel, this time on the main street of Ballinkill, at 4.40am.
Fire crews from Portlaoise, Abbeyleix and Durrow attended the fire at what locals called Dunphy’s Hotel, with Abbeyleix crew on the scene until 2pm that afternoon.
“There was significant damage done,” said the CFO.
Locals wrote of their sadness on social media.
“What a shame. The Hotel was a great old Landmark in B’kill. The history and stories, if the walls could talk. It was bad enough left derelict but now what a mess,” said one.
The Gardaí are investigating the fires.