Shorts employees were asked to report for work as normal today after a major fire ripped through part of its east Belfast factory.
The aircraft manufacturer’s parent company Bombardier said it expected production to continue as usual as it launched an investigation into the cause of the chemical blaze.
The emergency services were called to the Harbour Estate at around 8.20am yesterday after the blaze was discovered by maintenance workers in a part of the factory where new components are treated before they go to an assembly line.
A total of 20 fire engines and 85 fire fighters were needed to tackle the fire at its base near George Best Belfast City Airport. They were joined by six chemical specialists from Bombardier who worked closely with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) to bring the fire under control. Fortunately there were no injuries as a result of the fire.
John Allen, NIFRS Group Commander, said it was a “major incident” in the production area of the factory.
“The fire spread to involve chemicals,” he said. “Once they started to burn they gave off toxic fumes. The number of personnel deployed is indicative that this was a big incident. We are pleased that no one was injured in the fire, or in the course of tackling it.”
Mr Allen said he could not recall a major fire at the site before, only a chemical spillage some years ago. The fire chief described the factory as a secure site patrolled by both Bombardier’s own security team and the Harbour Estate police.
Bombardier spokesman Alec McRitchie said it would be business as normal at the factory this week.
“Although the fire was fairly intense and produced a lot of flames and smoke, it was contained within part of the factory,” he said.
“There will be a full investigation of the cause of the incident but initial inspections have shown that damage was confined to this relatively small area,” he said. “There appears to be no structural damage to the facility and we do not expect there to be any impact on our production process. Employees should report as normal for night and day shifts.”
Mr McRitchie thanked the Emergency Services and particularly the Fire Service “for their excellent and prompt response, as well as our employees involved who responded so well.”