'I thought of Grenfell' - terror as inferno tears through hotel and apartments
At least a hundred people were evacuated from a well known Dublin hotel complex last night after a massive blaze ripped through the building.
Up to 20 units of Dublin Fire Brigade raced to the scene of the inferno at The Metro Hotel building in Ballymun, north Dublin.
The fire broke out around 7.30pm in apartments at the complex and spread rapidly. It's understood the building was almost immediately evacuated and people could be seen running from the hotel.
Paramedics were later seen treating a person at the scene.
Last night Dublin Fire Brigade said that "as of yet we have no reports of any casualties or people unaccounted for".
Such was the intensity of the blaze that windows of the building were blown out. Seven fire engines, and multiple garda vehicles were at the scene as locals looked on in shock.
Firefighters could be seen entering the hotel with breathing apparatuses while colleagues used high-powered hoses to battle the flames from the ground.
Two bus-loads of people were taken to a nearby hotel after being evacuated.
The main source of the fire was believed to be on one of the upper floors of the building and debris was seen crashing on to parked vehicles below.
"It started around 7.30pm and I saw a little spark and saw loads of people running out of the exits screaming 'help'," a witness told the Herald.
"It started at the third last floor and debris was falling off into the parking lot. The fire brigade hadn't arrived yet so I ran into the lobby and the alarms were blaring. The person at the reception told me she already knew and that the emergency crew were on their way.
"The smoke hit the whole building and even went into the lifts. There were loads of people just running out. I saw one woman crying in her dressing gown with her three children. Another man was lying on the ground being treated by the ambulance men a little while ago."
A woman named Joy, who was evacuated from one of the apartments at the hotel complex, told how the dramatic situation unfolded.
"I was in 903 when it happened," she told Niall Boylan on 4fm. "The alarm was going off for a long time, I didn't do anything until I realised it was going on too long. I called reception because I turned and the windows had opened out.
"I thought it was a fault in the window and I called reception to close them. They said there's a fire, I needed to leave my home. I literally grabbed whatever. I was reminded of the Grenfell Tower, I thought 'oh my God, this is happening".
The woman was alone at the time. She said she has been living there for two or three years and said young families live in the complex.
"I was shocked. The alarm was going on for so long and I hadn't done anything. You know the bad thing about it, we've had false alarms before.
"You just turn a blind eye. It was shocking to see the 14th and 15th floor completely gone."
The cause of the blaze remained unknown last night.
An Incident Support Unit along with a Dublin Fire Brigade Command Support Unit were set up at the site.
The area surrounding the hotel was sealed off with a large section of the Ballymun road closed to vehicles. A garda helicopter flew over the scene and locals said that the lobby of the Metro had also experienced fire damage. One local said he could smell the smoke from his home.
"It reeked of burning plastic and even though my windows were closed I knew something big was on fire," he said.
"When I came out to see what was happening a whole section of the upper floor was on fire. "
Anthony Flynn of Inner City Helping Homeless said he was driving past the hotel shortly before 9pm when he saw a flame at the top of the building.
"I was on my way home when I seen it and it was a spark of a fire, it was just about starting," he said.
Despite earlier concerns, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive confirmed no homeless families were in the building.
Local TD Noel Rock said: "I hope everybody is safe but cannot be certain for the moment. I'd like to praise the emergency workers I've spoken to this evening, and thanked them for their work."