Fire crews will remain at Galson throughout the day today (Friday February 15th) after a massive fire ripped through the Galson Estate Trust business centre in the early hours of this morning.
Up to 25 firefighters battled flames against high winds and with a dwindling water supply after the fire was reported just after 1am, by a power worker heading to an incident in the area.
Fears of injury or damage to other property led to the final demolition of the one standing wall just before daylight today.
An engineering team from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks were passing through Galson on the way to investigate a power outage which had been reported just after midnight, when they saw flames leaping from the roof of the building.
Fire crews from Shawbost, Ness and Stornoway were quickly on scene, to find the building well alight, with fierce flames leaping from the roof.
Fire Scotland district manager Gavin Hammond told welovestornoway.com this morning: “The crews were faced with a rapidly developing situation, with flames coming out of the roof, high winds, and challenges securing the water supply in the remote area.
“Crews were unable to enter the building due to the intensity of the fire and, because there was no evidence that anyone had been inside at the time, the decision was taken not to endanger crew members.
“It took several hours in strengthening winds to get the blaze under control and by then the vast majority of the building had been destroyed and the rest had become unstable. There were loose sheets of metal which could have detached in the winds and caused injury or damage.
“We liaised with police and a local contractor over the best way to make the building safe and, in the end, a digger which had been assisting SSE engineers was used to push over the metal gable end.”
Fire crews remain on scene damping down and will continue to deal with the incident for the majority of today. Crews will be rotated as some have now been on scene for over eight hours.
A preliminary investigation has been started into the cause of the blaze, but Gavin Hammond said that, based on witness reports, it did not seem that there was anything untoward about the incident.
He said: “The Galson Trust are obviously devastated at this event, but they, and we, are thankful that at least no-one was injured. The prevailing wind, while it caused us significant problems, was away from the nearby housing and nobody was threatened at any time with evacuation.
“We ask local drivers to be aware that this is an open incident and that crews are still present, and that there is the potential for smoke to blow across the road. Please take care when driving past the scene.”
Urras Chair Agnes Rennie said, “The Urras will continue with business as normal. We have been overwhelmed with offers of support and practical offers of temporary accommodation.”
She went on to say “we would like to express our grateful thanks to the Fire Service for their prompt response and their efforts to save the building.”
(The last three paragraphs have been updated since the post was first made.)