A Covid-19 testing and isolation facility has been totally destroyed by fire.
Gardaí in Kilkenny are investigating the incident in which the €30,000 unit was totally destroyed in a large fire in the Wetlands area of the city.
The unit was put in place by Kilkenny County Council, in the middle of St Catherine’s housing scheme.
The fully fitted out isolation unit allowed those suspected or confirmed to have the virus to self-isolate and protect other residents in the community, and was put in place as part of the Council’s emergency Covid-19 response.
However, a large fire tore through the demountable unit, which was unoccupied at the time. Nobody was hurt in the blaze, at the weekend, but emergency services were called to the scene.
Fire walls successfully prevented the spread of the flames to nearby occupied dwellings. It had been hoped by Council officials that the unit may have been salvageable but the isolation facility has now been deemed unsafe by fire chiefs.
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Malone said it was lucky no one was hurt, and the incident could have been, "a lot worse had somebody been residing in the unit.”
He has expressed serious concerns over what happened, and the resulting cost and damage to property.
A senior council official confirmed to Cllr Malone, who is chair of Kilkenny’s housing committee, that the destruction of the unit was “extremely disappointing”.
The loss of the unit is expected to result in “serious challenges” in the management of any potential Covid-19 outbreak on the St Catherine’s site in the coming weeks or months, Cllr Malone added.
Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating the incident. Cllr Malone said he hoped the garda investigation would establish the cause of the fire, and that whatever measures are appropriate could then be taken.
Officers are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity leading up to the fire or anyone with information to contact them on 056-7775000.