Fire and smoke alarms failed to go off despite a serious blaze at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, a DUP Councillor has said.
Jonathan Craig said residents have told him that it was “quick thinking neighbours” who had helped clear the tower block after alarms failed to sound on upper levels of the building.
The fire took hold earlier this evening at Coolmoyne House tower block on Seymour Hill in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast.
It is understood the blaze has now been brought under control by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said four people have been taken by ambulance from the flats.
DUP Councillor Jonathan Craig, speaking to the News Letter, said: “The fire broke out on the ninth floor. It looks to have been something that originated in one of the kitchens and very quickly got out of control.
“Thankfully the neighbours were quickly alerted to the problem because of the smoke. They got in and managed to get the individual from that property out.”
He continued: “They started to clear the building themselves but there seems to have been major, major issues in that the smoke alarms didn’t go off, or the fire alarms, on some of the upper floors. They do appear to have went off on some of the lower floors, but neither the smoke alarms nor the fire alarms went off on the upper floors. It was the alertness of the neighbours who actually saved the situation and got the people out.
“That is extremely worrying and there will be questions to be answered as to why that happened.”
Councillor Craig added: “It was the quick thinking of the residents who saved the situation initially but I also have to thank the fire service, who got here within minutes with the right equipment to get to the ninth floor and bring the situation under control.”
He said he was thankful it appears that there has been no loss of life.
“We could be looking at something much, much more serious here,” he said. “Those people who have been taken away by ambulance are, as far as I am aware, being treated for smoke inhalation and we pray that they can recover fully from that.
“No one has been seriously injured or worse here, and that is down to the quick thinking of the residents and the emergency services.”
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said: “NIFRS received a call to Coolmoyne House, Dunmurry, Belfast at 17.32 today. A total of eleven fire appliances were mobilised to this incident.
“On arrival the Fire and Rescue Service were faced with a well-developed fire on the ninth floor of a block of flats.
“The prompt intervention of our fire-fighters quickly brought the blaze under control and it was extinguished at 1810hrs. One person has been rescued and a number of residents were led to safety.”
The spokesperson continued: “Crews remain on scene dealing with the incident. The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.
“The Fire and Rescue Service are still in attendance and would like to reassure the public that this incident does not provide any further risk to the public.”