Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Large fire rips through Ballymena business - MLA fears for jobs

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

There were fears for jobs after a large blaze ripped through a Co Antrim business.

Fire broke out at the JP Corry building supply merchants on the A26 outside Ballymena on Sunday evening.

Video and pictures on social media showed flames engulfing the building.

Police were forced to close off both sides of the dual carriageway as firefighters battled the blaze right beside the Applegreen petrol station.

Witnesses said the building looks to be completely gutted.

The Fire Service said it was working with Northern Ireland Water, Northern Ireland Electricity and the Environment Agency at the scene.

It sent six pumping appliances, an aerial appliance, a water tanker, a welfare vehicle, and a command vehicle to the scene. Crews from Ballymena, Belfast, Dungiven, Antrim and Kilrea were sent to the scene.

JP Corry said no one was hurt and it was grateful to the emergency services.

We can confirm there has been a fire at our JP Corry Ballymena (Robert Guy) branch. Fortunately nobody has been hurt and...

Posted by JP Corry on Sunday, June 16, 2019

Retail manager Andrew Lennox was on the dual carriageway at around 6.30pm when he noticed puffs of smoke as they approached the scene.

As road has been blocked off he has had to sit and wait while the emergency services tackle the blaze.

Fire at JP Corry's outside Ballymena. Pic Pacemaker
Fire at JP Corry's outside Ballymena. Pic Pacemaker
Fire at JP Corry's outside Ballymena. Pic Pacemaker
Fire at JP Corry's outside Ballymena. Pic Pacemaker
Fire at JP Corry's outside Ballymena. Pic Pacemaker
Fire at JP Corry's outside Ballymena. Pic Pacemaker
Firefighters tackle a major fire at JP Corrys hardware store on the A26 five miles north of Ballymena, Sunday June 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul McErlane for the Belfast Telegraph)
Firefighters tackle a major fire at JP Corrys hardware store on the A26 five miles north of Ballymena, Sunday June 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul McErlane for the Belfast Telegraph)
Firefighters tackle a major fire at JP Corrys hardware store on the A26 five miles north of Ballymena, Sunday June 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul McErlane for the Belfast Telegraph)
Firefighters tackle a major fire at JP Corrys hardware store on the A26 five miles north of Ballymena, Sunday June 16, 2019. (Photo by Paul McErlane for the Belfast Telegraph)

He spoke to the Belfast Telegraph from the scene: "It is well developed. The fire is rightly up and has spread to the entire building. The building is in three sections and it has covered them all.

"The fire service was on the scene not long after we had to stop at 6.30pm."

The 29-year-old was heading to his Cullybackey home when he got stopped at the scene.

"At first we thought it was the Applegreen" he continued.

"Hopefully they are able to bring it under control and no one is injured."

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said it was "very sad" to hear of the fire at what he described as a "iconic landmark" on the A26.

"It has been there before there was a dual carriageway and this is devastating for the owners and all those employed," he said.

Mr Storey worked Agivey Bacon Plant (Lovell & Christmas Ulster Ltd) in Ballymoney which was destroyed in a fire in 1999.

"I know what it is like to watch and see a livelihood burn in front of you. The consequences from this could be felt for many years.

"Hopefully something can be salvaged."

TUV leader Jim Allister described the incident as a "big loss".

"Not just a business at stake but jobs," he tweeted.

The fire is ongoing and road diversions are in place at Drones Road roundabout and Fenagh Road.

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