Job hopes go up in flames with factory

Inside the Avon factory, Portarlington after the fire on Tuesday night September 2. Photo: Laois Fire and Rescue Service.
Faint hopes of a new employer to take over the empty Avon factory in Portarlington literally went up in smoke last week in a fire that has almost gutted the building.

Faint hopes of a new employer to take over the empty Avon factory in Portarlington literally went up in smoke last week in a fire that has almost gutted the building.

A total of 13 fire crews battled the inferno at the factory on Canal Road, through the early hours of last Wednesday morning, September 3. Despite their efforts, the blaze destroyed almost half the building and most of the roof.

The plant is in the hands of state agency NAMA. Following public fears in 2012 it was boarded and chemicals taken away. However, in recent times security was removed from the factory, leaving it open to tresspassers and vandals. A garda investigationin to the cause of the blaze has not ruled out arson.

The fire is the final nail in the coffin for the factory, which opened in 1977 making jewellery and cosmetics. At its height several hundred local people worked there before its closure in 1999.Attempts to replace Avon failed.

Latest unemployment figures for Laois show 8,592 people signing on the live register in August, almost four times the number in 2004.

Meanwhile, The Heritage Killenard is out of NAMA afer being bought by an American investor for a sum in excess of €5.5 million.