A huge fire which was fanned by high winds in Belfast’s Great Victoria Street on Sunday evening was brought under control before it could spread to a nearby petrol station.
Eyewitness Lori McCully (21) told the Belfast Telegraph: “There is a ‘Go’ garage nearby and all of the flames and debris were flying off the building and we were worried in case something caught fire. The wind really didn’t help, it just escalated it because the flames were just getting carried and we couldn’t see out of our window for a time because the smoke was so thick.”
Lori, who was home from Liverpool, where she is at university, added: “The police were there in two minutes and my brother phoned the fire service.
“We were wondering if there was anyone in the building because it had been renovated and it went up in flames, but all the buildings near it are abandoned so we were happy that it didn’t look as if there was anybody inside. The ceiling collapsed.”
She said residents had to enter their apartment building — which is across the road from the blazing building — through the back during the drama.
A Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service spokesman said last night: “Despite challenging operational conditions caused by this evening’s high winds, fire crews have successfully prevented fire from spreading to adjacent properties.”
Five fire appliances, one aerial appliance and a command vehicle were at the scene.
A spokesman at the Kitch Restaurant in the nearby Dublin Road said they were aware of the blaze but it did not impact on their business.
“It was at what was the old Shaftesbury Hospital or the unit next to it. It started around 6pm. We are still going strong.”