Published Tuesday, 14 August 2012
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The fire on the first floor of the old Waveney laundry broke out at around 4pm on Tuesday and it was feared the flames would spread to nearby houses.
Thirty homes were evacuated and residents taken to Harryville community centre, while fire crews tried to contain the blaze.
Fifty fire fighters were on scene and crews came from Belfast, Portadown, Maghera and Magherafelt.
Area commander Gary Thompson said the Fire and Rescue Service had difficulty getting access to the fire because the old building is surrounded by homes.
"This was a very big life risk. At one stage, when the crews arrived flames were 10ft from adjacent properties. It was a very complex layout building, tightly in through narrow streets.
"If this had have happened at the middle of the night and gone undetected for a while it could've been a more serious incident. Certainly it would've spread to multiple properties and there would have been mass rescues at that stage," he told UTV.
Part of the building collapsed during the fire and the cause has yet to be identified.
Police have requested business owners and home owners in the area to close all doors and windows to avoid the inhalation of harmful fumes.
The Clonavon Road is closed between North Street and Waveney Road.