AN investigation is underway into the cause of a fire that forced the suspension of shipping operations at a major Irish port.
ealth and Safety Authority (HSA) inspectors, working with forensic fire investigators, are examining the site of a major blaze at the Port of Cork in Ringaskiddy that resulted in an evacuation of part of the facility last Saturday and a plea for local residents to remain indoors.
The fire, in a grain silo operated by R&H Hall, resulted in a large plume of black smoke billowing from the silo which could be seen up to 5km away.
Flames were also seen swirling around the large grain depot shortly after 8am on Saturday.
Firefighters successfully brought the blaze at the grain silo under control within three hours.
Multiple units of the Port of Cork, Carrigaline and Crosshaven fire brigades remained on site into Sunday for critical damping down operations.
Shipping operations were suspended on Saturday as a precautionary measure but resumed early on Sunday with the MV Independent Quest to first to arrive following the port’s re-opening.
Ringskiddy is the Port of Cork’s deepwater berth and handles the bulk of the agri-foods and container traffic.
It is understood the silo was destroyed by the blaze with major damage sustained to an adjacent support building.
The HSA were notified and investigators are now examining the site, assisted by forensic fire inspectors, to determine the precise cause of the blaze.
One theory is that a piece of machinery may have malfunctioned and caught fire.
Another theory is that heat generated by the stored grain may have sparked the blaze.
Gardaí attended the scene to assist with local traffic control and to support fire service personnel.
One source confirmed that the fire is being treated as entirely accidental with any question of arson having been ruled out.
R&H Hall employ seven people at the site in grain operations and apologised to locals and other businesses for the disruption caused by the accident.
Locals admitted they were shocked by the blaze and the scale of smoke left billowing over roads surrounding the port.
Source: Irish News