Watch: Building engulfed in flames after 'lightning strike' in Northern Ireland

4 July 2021, 19:04 | Updated: 4 July 2021, 22:37

Fire engulfs coffin manufacturer in Strabane, Northern Ireland

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

This is the moment a building was engulfed in a fiery inferno amid reports of a lightning strike in Strabane, Northern Ireland.

The blaze broke out on Sunday afternoon at O'Doherty and Sons Coffin and Casket manufacturers in Railway Street.

Footage posted on social media shows plumes of grey and black smoke billowing from the building while fire crews tackle the flames.

The PSNI has urged the public to avoid the area.

A 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 building became engulfed in a fiery inferno amid reports it was struck by lightning
A building became engulfed in a fiery inferno amid reports it was struck by lightning. Picture: Damien Corry
The fire broke out at O'Doherty and Sons Coffin and Casket manufacturers
The fire broke out at O'Doherty and Sons Coffin and Casket manufacturers. Picture: PA

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!"

There have been no reports of injuries.

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

Local Alliance party councillor Stephen Donnelly tweeted: "Deeply disturbing images emerging from Strabane town centre.

"Thankful to the fire service as they seek to bring the blaze under control, and my thoughts are with the businesses and workers impacted."

Charles O'Doherty & Sons is an independent family business that has been operating in the area for more than a century after being established in 1908.

Its website says: "The business originally built horse-drawn carts and traps and then evolved to coach building with the advent of the combustion engine.

"When coffin manufacturing was introduced the second generation continued to manage both businesses.

"Today the company concentrates solely on coffin manufacturing, providing a high level of craftsmanship quality and professionalism to all its customers."