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Bombardier praises 'incredible work' of fire service following major blaze at east Belfast site

Bombardier has praised the "incredible work" of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) following a blaze at its east Belfast site.

The business confirmed that no employees were working when the fire broke out on Sunday evening, requiring 50 firefighters to extinguish.

Describing the blaze as “a significant incident”, a NIFRS spokesman said the fire was in the Airport Road manufacturing facility. It was “well alight” when firefighters arrived on the scene.

Seven fire appliances, including an aerial one, were dispatched as a pall of black smoke rose over Belfast Harbour shortly before 9pm on Sunday.

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Firefighters tackling a large fire in the docks area of Belfast on May 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters tackling a large fire in the docks area of Belfast on May 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters tackling a large fire in the docks area of Belfast on May 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The fire was brought under control.

"Operations are being scaled back with a small number of resources remaining at the scene to damp down," the spokesman said at around 11pm.

"The fire appears to have started in machinery and the cause of the incident is under investigation. At this stage the cause is believed to be accidental.

"There were no injuries at the incident."

In a statement, Bombardier 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.

"While there is damage to some machinery and a portion of the roof, there is no damage to any aircraft structures or aerostructure assembly lines. 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.”

Earlier Councillor Jim Rodgers said: “It’s too early to say what the cause of this fire is, but it could be a major blow to Bombardier, who employ 3,000 people at the site.

“The majority of them had just returned to work after being furloughed because of the virus. The last thing we need is for Bombardier to be hit like this."

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Firefighters tackling a large fire in the docks area of Belfast on May 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters tackling a large fire in the docks area of Belfast on May 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters tackling a large fire in the docks area of Belfast on May 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Belfast Telegraph