Latest: Firefighters praised for preventing deaths after high-rise fire in Belfast

Firefighters have been praised for averting loss of life after a fire broke out in a high-rise tower block near Belfast.

The blaze burst through windows of a ninth floor apartment in Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry, causing scorch damage on two sides of the 14-storey property.

The man whose flat caught alight was rescued by fire service personnel who also helped lead other residents to safety.

Paramedics tended to four patients, a Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Group Commander Geoff Somerville said the accidental fire, which he said was suspected to have been caused by a toaster, was well developed when crews arrived within five minutes of the emergency call.

"I am very relieved there is no loss of life and that is only because of the courageous actions of our firefighters here today," he said.

"We had 55 firefighters in attendance and thanks to their professionalism no one has lost their life in this premises."

Firefighters at the scene. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Robert Zwaagman, who lives on the 12th floor, said the first he knew of the fire was when fire crews arrived.

He insisted an alarm should have sounded throughout the building.

"Especially after the Grenfell Tower accident the main question and the main concern of mine is the fact why didn't the alarms go off, with such a big fire, on every floor?" he said.

Mr Zwaagman said it had been a "frightening" experience.

"I am okay now but just a couple of minutes ago I was shaking," he said.

Fellow resident Janice Sloan said: "It's such a shock to have such an event like this.

"The first we knew anything was wrong was the two fire brigades outside."

Residents Robert Zwaagman and Janice Sloan. Photo: David Young/PA Wire

Assembly member Edwin Poots said his overriding emotion was one of relief.

"It's one of huge relief that this isn't another Grenfell disaster," he said.

"This is a high tower and it could have been much, much worse but we had a brilliant response from the fire service who quickly brought the fire under control and got everyone out of the building, supported by the other emergency services."

The Democratic Unionist representative said residents had endured a "hugely traumatic" experience.

"The big concern for a lot of the residents is that smoke alarms did not go off throughout the building, so many residents were in a burning building and didn't realise it," he said.

Update 8pm: A fire which swept through a high-rise tower block near Belfast has been extinguished.

One person had to be rescued from the fire and a number of other residents were led to safety, the

Northern Ireland Fire Rescue Service said.

Paramedics had tended to four patients, a Northern Ireland Ambulance spokesman said earlier.

The fire comes a day after the five-month anniversary of the Grenfell high-rise inferno which killed at least 80 people.

A fire service spokesman said they received a call to respond to the blaze at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry, near Belfast at 5.32pm on Wednesday.

Eleven fire engines were sent to the scene and managed to bring the blaze under control by 6.10pm.

The fire service described the the blaze erupting from a flat on the ninth floor of the block of flats as "well-developed" when they first arrived.

The spokesman added: "The prompt intervention of our firefighters quickly brought the blaze under control."

The scene of a fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry. Photo: Robert Cullen/PA Wire

At the scene by 7.30pm, six fire engines remained along with police cars and ambulances and dozens of residents remained outdoors.

Smoke damage was visible to two sides of the building, concentrated around a ninth-floor corner flat.

Local politicians were also seen at the scene, speaking with residents of the high-rise building.

The fire service is investigating the cause of the blaze, its statement said.

Earlier: Four people are being treated by paramedics following a blaze that ripped through a high-rise block of flats in Northern Ireland.

Emergency services are at the scene of the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry, near Belfast, where residents have been evacuated from the building.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman John McPoland said the fire was reported from the ninth floor about 6pm on Wednesday.

The four people were being treated by the ambulance service, but the situation was ongoing and there was no further details about their conditions, Mr McPoland added.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service are currently at the scene.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said the matter was being dealt with by the fire service.


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