Gardaí in east Cork are continuing investigations into a fire that gutted a large section of a derelict hotel.
The fire broke out at the former Hilltop Hotel, Youghal, at 11pm on Sunday, decimating what was once the bar and reception area.
Fire units from Youghal, Ardmore, Midleton, and Mallow fought the blaze for more than six hours and prevented it from spreading to the former bedroom quarters.
The site, overlooking Youghal pitch and putt course and some 100mfrom Claycastle beach, is close to residential properties and a large caravan park.
Locals were advised to remain indoors as heavy smoke from furniture, carpets, and the roof spiralled overhead during the fire.
The once-thriving venue closed about 15 years ago and has occasionally been a focus of anti-social behaviour, as well as vermin infestation.
The site was purchased by a property company over a decade ago but steadily declined into a major eyesore.
In 2008, a freak typhoon ripped off the roof after which the owners secured the building more tightly.
In 2010, firefighters prevented a smaller fire in a boiler room from spreading to a storage tank containing 200 gallons of heater fuel.
Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce director Michael Farrell said the incident came a week after the chamber had written to the owners expressing safety concerns.
He also said the chamber had also appealed to Cork County Council “several times” to place a dereliction order on the site.
“They have done so with business premises in the town so why not on this site,” he said.
Yesterday, however, the county council revealed it had served a derelict site notice and was liaising with the property owner.
As Youghal strives to become a vibrant, family-friendly tourism destination on Ireland’s Ancient East, Mr Farrell said the Hilltop site is “a major detraction” from that objective.
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