Buildings evacuated as fire tears through nightclub in Derry
Police had to evacuate two main roads into Londonderry city centre last night after a major fire tore through a nightclub.
Police set up cordons and held traffic back from Strand Road as they suspected that there was asbestos in the roof of the burning building.
Passers-by called the emergency services after seeing smoke pouring out of the roof of Envy nightclub on the city's Strand Road.
The club, situated directly opposite Strand Road PSNI station, was closed at the time of the fire. It was destroyed in the blaze which took hold of the building shortly before 7pm.
Large explosions and what appeared to be fireworks went off as the flames grew more intense and firefighters had to use ladders to get hoses high enough to tackle the blaze.
Nearby buildings, including the North West Regional College, were evacuated as firefighters dealt with the fire, which saw thick black smoke bellow out across the River Foyle.
— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) January 9, 2020
Police on the scene of the major Derry fire say that the roof of the Envy nightclub which is well ablaze contains asbestos. Loud bangs can be heard as the fire takes hold pic.twitter.com/Vc63aUYxCH
Rosemary Boyle said that she noticed smoke coming from the rear of the premises and called the emergency services.
"I was walking home down the Strand Road and I heard what sounded like fireworks coming from inside Envy nightclub. There was constant popping and I looked up at the back of the building and could see smoke.
"There was no one else around except another woman who said she knew the owner of the buildin," she said.
"She rang him and I rang the fire brigade. All the while the sound of fireworks was getting worse.
"I was standing there looking up at it as the fire started to catch the roof. The fire brigade came quickly and we were evacuated."
Sinead Harkin, who works in a Mr Chippy fast food takeaway next door to the nightclub, said she was in shock looking at the ferocity of the fire. "I looked out and saw what I thought was fog in the street," she said. "I went to the door and saw loads of smoke and fire engines coming down the street. I didn't actually realise how bad it was until I went out onto the street.
"I ran back into the shop and turned the gas and electric off in the shop, and then the police came in and told us to get out quickly. I am just in shock."
Police issued warnings for the public to stay away from the area around the Strand Road and Foyle Expressway and urged those living in close to Strand Road to keep their windows closed.