| 11.7°C Belfast

Bombardier: Fire at Belfast factory will have minimal impact on deliveries

Aerospace giant Bombardier has said a fire in its east Belfast factory will have "minimal" impact on customer deliveries.

The company confirmed that the fire, which broke out on Sunday night, had damaged some machinery and part of the roof at its premises on Queen's Island.

However, there had been no damage to any aircraft structures or assembly lines caused by the fire, which is believed to have been accidental.

Around 3,000 people work at the east Belfast premises. However, no staff were on site when the fire broke out.

It's understood an electrical failure caused the blaze, with chemicals in the area leading it to ignite quickly.

A spokeswoman said: "Thanks to the incredible work of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, along with our security, health and safety and operations teams, as well as strict safety protocols and fire prevention infrastructure within our buildings, the fire was contained within one area of the factory.

"Following thorough safety inspections, work has resumed as normal in other areas of the factory. We will work with our customers and suppliers to address any production concerns. However, we are confident there will be minimal impact to customer deliveries."

But it was too soon to give detail of the impact on delivery schedules, she said.

"We're working hard to get the area back up and running as soon as possible but can't give precision on any specific delivery schedules at this point."

The Fire and Rescue Service said it had been alerted to the factory at 8.45pm.

In total 50 firefighters worked on containing the blaze, using six pumping appliances, an aerial appliance and a high volume pump. Stephen Kelly, chief executive of trade body Manufacturing NI, said he was grateful to the Fire and Rescue Service for bringing the inferno under quick control.

"It appears that disaster was averted by firewalls and other architectural features, and the overriding fact that there was no-one in the factory at the time."

And he said it was a relief to the manufacturing sector that no major disruption was likely to result.

"Bombardier is a strategically important manufacturer in Northern Ireland, not just because of the jobs in the factory but because of all those in the supply chain and supporting companies.

"Without Bombardier we'd have a lot of companies in a lot of trouble at a time when everyone is rebuilding and catching their breath after the lockdown due to coronavirus."

The local manufacturing sector has been gradually returning to business since the lockdown.

Mr Kelly said companies had put effort and investment into equipping their factories to meeting social distancing guidelines.

"The fact that we're at the upper end of caution when it comes to social distancing has brought challenges for manufacturing but they've met those head-on."

Belfast Telegraph