Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 13:53 UK

Blaze damages cigarette factory

fire
The fire broke out at Gallagher's cigarette factory in Ballymena on Sunday

A three-storey high warehouse at Gallaher's cigarette factory in County Antrim has been destroyed in a fire.

More than 50 firefighters and 10 appliances fought the blaze at Galgorm Road, Ballymena, on Sunday evening.

The building was gutted in the blaze. No-one was injured. Peter O'Reilly from the Fire and Rescue Service, said the fire proved difficult to contain.

"It was very complicated and technically difficult, made so by the age and size of the building," he said.

"It is a very old building and is quite large - three storeys high. At the very early stages of the fire, significant parts of that building appeared to be in imminent danger of collapse."

Structural engineers have been inspecting building
Structural engineers have been inspecting the building

Mr O'Reilly, an area commander with the fire service, said it was too early to say how the fire started.

He said the building was dangerous and he recommended that structural engineers assess that danger before anyone entered it.

Ian Paisley Snr and his son, Ian Paisley Jr visited the site of the fire on Monday.

Mr Paisley Snr said the building was very old and had been used as a store. He said he understood that the fire was accidental and, thanks to the firefighters' skill, jobs or production at the factory would not be affected.

Gallaher, which employs around 1100 people in Ballymena, was founded in 1857 and has been owned by Japan Tobacco since 2007.



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