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Aftermath of the Douglas Village Shopping Centre fire showing buckled steel beams. Still from a video by Cork City Fire Brigade via Twitter
Aftermath of the Douglas Village Shopping Centre fire showing buckled steel beams. Still from a video by Cork City Fire Brigade via Twitter
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Douglas Shopping Centre owner: We’re dealing with very dangerous building

THE owner of Douglas Village Shopping Centre, which suffered a devastating fire in recent weeks, has spoken about the large-scale demolition and rebuilding project that lies ahead.

Developer Clayton Love said the fire-damaged shopping centre and car park are currently “very dangerous”.

He hopes to see demolition begin next week but said it would be a complex operation and the timeline was impossible to predict.

“This isn’t an off-the-shelf type demolition,” he said. “It has to be done very carefully and very slowly.

“I would stress that the building is dangerous.

“There is a part of the centre that is definitely coming down and there are other parts that will have to be tested and checked.

 Clayton Love, owner of Douglas Village Shopping Centre, preparing to bring insurance assessors into the fire-damaged building. Picture: Dan Linehan

Clayton Love, owner of Douglas Village Shopping Centre, preparing to bring insurance assessors into the fire-damaged building. Picture: Dan Linehan

“The amount of demolition then will largely determine the time period for a rebuild. There is a lot of steel to be ordered and we won’t know how much we’ll need until we’re well into the demolition.

“It’s only then that we’ll begin to get an accurate feel for how much material is needed. That then will be the key factor in determining how long it will take to rebuild the centre.”

Mr Love revealed that the plan is to rebuild the car park as it was before the fire.

“We don’t have any plans other than to get it back up and running and to do this as soon and as safely as possible,” he said.

“It won’t happen overnight, unfortunately. We’re dealing with a very dangerous building at the moment.”

 There were 197 cars in the shopping centre at the time of the fire; 138 of these have been removed, of which 117 have been collected and 21 are awaiting collection. Picture Dan Linehan

There were 197 cars in the shopping centre at the time of the fire; 138 of these have been removed, of which 117 have been collected and 21 are awaiting collection. Picture Dan Linehan

Mr Love said that one area of focus up to now has been engaging with tenants and determining if some could access the centre safely to retrieve stock.

“We’ve been trying to get the food products out of the centre in a safe manner, largely supervised by Hegarty’s Construction,” he said.

“We’re slowly working our way through it with tenants, trying to get out what we can for them.

“The rest of it just has to remain until the building is demolished to an extent that the rest of the building is safe.”

Mr Love described the removal of cars as a “major exercise”.

“The first step was to get as many cars out as we could and return them to their owners,” he said.

 Aftermath of Douglas Village Shopping Centre fire in the multi-storey carpark. Pic; Larry Cummins
Aftermath of Douglas Village Shopping Centre fire in the multi-storey carpark. Pic; Larry Cummins
There were 197 cars in the shopping centre at the time of the fire; 138 of these have been removed, of which 117 have been collected and 21 are awaiting collection.

“We’ve told everybody to get their car tested for safety reasons because if they were in any way exposed to the heat, you don’t know what kind of damage that can do to electronics and other aspects,” said Mr Love.

There are 59 cars still inside the structure. While 46 are completely destroyed and will not be removed, Mr Love said he is hopeful that 10 may be removable.

“Whether they are damaged or undamaged, that remains to be seen because they will be difficult to get out but they’re doing their best,” he said.

A meeting of Douglas traders with City Hall officials. Pic; Larry Cummins.
A meeting of Douglas traders with City Hall officials. Pic; Larry Cummins.
Three cars remain on the roof of the car park, directly over the fire-damaged area.

“They’re directly over the weakest part of the building and we can’t send anybody there on vehicles or on foot,” said Mr Love. “It’s too dangerous — the whole lot could collapse at any moment.”

Mr Love said there may be an opportunity to safely retrieve these three cars during demolition but that there was no guarantee of this.

“There are 46 cars that are destroyed and they’re not coming out.

“By way of deduction, we now know who the owners of the 46 destroyed cars are and we’re beginning to talk to them and explain that their car is not coming out.

“We did all the necessary certification to insurance companies to confirm that.

“Hopefully, their own insurance companies will sort them out quickly.”

Mr Love said he was very grateful to the emergency services who responded on the night, as well as the tenants who helped in ensuring people followed procedure and got out safely.

“We’ve got nothing but compliments to pay to the fire services, gardaí, as well as the tenants and staff on duty, who managed to get customers out safely,” said Mr Love.