'Extremely dangerous': Warning as squatters tap into electricity supplies in unoccupied buildings in Cork city

Second officer at Cork City Fire Brigade, Victor Shine, expects the number of people squatting in unoccupied and derelict buildings will increase significantly in the winter
'Extremely dangerous': Warning as squatters tap into electricity supplies in unoccupied buildings in Cork city

Campaigners Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry say they have identified 700 derelict properties within a 2km radius of the city centre. FILE PIC

DERELICT and unoccupied properties are contributing to fires across Cork City, being hotspots for drug use and anti- social behaviour, a fire officer has said.

Second officer at Cork City Fire Brigade, Victor Shine, expects the number of people squatting in unoccupied and derelict buildings will increase significantly in the winter.

Campaigners Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry say they have identified 700 derelict properties within a 2km radius of the city centre.

Mr Shine said some people are bypassing electrical systems to tap into power supplies. 

“The power may have been disconnected and people are illegally tapping into the supply,” he said. 

“Obviously, this is extremely dangerous. There are also people lighting fires inside properties, using any materials available to them. Sometimes that’s furniture, other times it’s building materials. They are even tearing down doors to use as fuel for a fire. Now that we are coming into winter, this kind of activity is going to be on the increase.

“Not all the sites being targeted are derelict. We are also seeing people using unoccupied properties for accommodation or drug use.”

Mr Shine described the potential risks for those occupying the properties. “The danger is that someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs will have something happen to them. They may not even be conscious enough to respond to the emergency or become trapped inside resulting in serious injury or death.”

RISKS

Mr Shine warned about the dangers for people seeking alternative means to access electricity. 

“It’s in derelict buildings where the main fuse may have been withdrawn by the ESB that you see people taking the opportunity to get the power back in a different way. Both derelict and unoccupied properties come up against the same risks.

Victor Shine, 2nd Officer Cork Fire Service. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Victor Shine, 2nd Officer Cork Fire Service. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“There are opportunists who will spot a property that has been up for sale for a long time. They take the decision to break into it and that becomes their habitat for a period of time.

“This doesn’t necessarily have to be a derelict property. It could also be sheds or a commercial or domestic property. Some people are desperate and that desperation means they stop caring about the risks.”

Mr Shine said he fears that the issue could result in tragedy. “There have been calls where people have fallen into fires and gained substantial injuries that were immediate and resulted in death.”

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