Cemetery blaze report due out

Cemetery blaze report due out

18 March 2020

POLITICIANS will be provided with an update on the recent blaze which ripped through part of a building at Struell cemetery in Downpatrick.

The blaze — which is believed to have been started by an electrical fault – has left Newry, Mourne and Down Council with a repair bill running into tens of thousands of pounds.

The Fire and Rescue Service carried out a detailed examination of the building in the aftermath of the blaze and members of the local authority’s Neighbourhood Services Committee are expected to discover its initial findings tomorrow night.

Mechanical equipment, including a small digger, was destroyed in the blaze at the Old Course Road cemetery three weeks ago, with firefighters able to prevent flames from spreading to a toilet block which remains operational.

The cemetery was temporarily closed by local authority officials in the wake of the fire but was subsequently reopened. Council insurers also visited the site to inspect the scale of the damage.

The roof of the cemetery building which was badly affected by the fire contained asbestos tiles which resulted in debris falling within the structure and on ground immediately beside it.

Council staff erected fencing around the damaged part of the building to prevent access to the asbestos material with arrangements made to remove it off site by an approved asbestos contractor.

Downpatrick councillor Dermot Curran said politicians will be keen to hear tomorrow’s update and how soon the main building will be fully operational. He also hopes that councillors will be provided with an estimate of the cost of the repair work.

“This is Downpatrick’s only public cemetery and I hope that once the insurers have completed their assessment and the Fire and Rescue Service report is discussed, that repairs can get underway,” said Cllr Curran.

“The cemetery is widely used by people from across the district and while the scale of the damage was significant, it is somewhat comforting that the blaze is being blamed on an electrical fault and was not as the result of an arson attack.”