News

Coffin maker erupts into flames after being ‘struck by lightning’ during storm

A lightning strike is thought to have sparked a large fire that erupted at a coffin maker and sent flames shooting several feet into the air.

About 80 firefighters were battling the inferno which broke out at O’Doherty and Sons Coffin and Casket manufacturers in Strabane in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, around 4pm on Sunday.

Local residents have been urged to keep their windows closed and people have been told to stay away from the area.

A PSNI statement said: “Police are advising the public that due to a fire on Railway Street in Strabane, they should avoid the area to allow emergency services to deal with the blaze.

“Our officers are at the scene, please follow their directions.”

A Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) spokesperson told BelfastLive: “NIFRS are continuing to deal with what was a substantial fire at a commercial premises.

“There are currently 10 pumping appliances and four specialist vehicles in attendance with approximately 80 firefighters.

“Operations are expected to continue into tomorrow.

“The public are asked to avoid the area due to high level of activity and also keep windows and doors closed.

“NIFRS received notification of the fire at 4.10pm, cause is currently under investigation.”

Local Sinn Fein councillor Michaela Boyle tweeted: “Massive fire in Strabane town centre twelve fire appliances in attendance, please avoid the Railway road area.

“Residents across this area of the town keep doors and windows closed. Please comply with the fire service and stay away from the area.”

Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle Martina Anderson shared a video of the incident on Twitter with the caption “Struck by lightning!”

She urged people to stay away from the area.

No injuries have been reported.

Earlier on Sunday, the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for the area, which mentioned a risk of thunderstorms and lightning strikes.

It said: “There is a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds

“Where flooding or lightning strikes occur, there is a chance of delays and some cancellations to train and bus services.”

Derry City & Strabane District Council’s DUP mayor, Graham Warke, said the storms had brought heavy flooding in the area.

He said: “We’re dealing with a number of floods here at the moment in the city.

“I know there’s a major fire. It’s mad here at the minute.

“We’re having severe heavy rain, a lot of local flooding.”

The Met Office’s weather warning was due to last until midnight.

It stated: “Widespread heavy showers and thunderstorms are expected on Sunday.

“Some places will miss the worst of these, but where they do occur, 20 to 30 mm rain could fall in a short space of time leading to some surface water flooding.

“Lightning and hail will be additional hazards.

“Showers and thunderstorms will only slowly ease during Sunday evening and some could persist well into the night.