Limerick bus firm count the cost of devastating fire

Ardagh community in shock as two family buses engulfed in flames

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Limerick bus firm count the cost of devastating fire

The fire at Madigan’s Bus Hire in Ardagh has destroyed two of the company’s nine buses

THE OWNERS of a family business which was devastated by a fire last week have spoken out about the ordeal.

Timmy Madigan of Madigan’s Bus Hire in Ardagh said that they believe the fire, which destroyed two of their buses, was started under suspicious circumstances during a break-in.

The fire on Wednesday morning, March 22, caused a €125,000 loss to the company, and took three hours to extinguish.

“It’s an awful blow to us. We are up and running for 40 years. My mother and father started off back in ‘77 with a car, and this is the first major incident that’s ever happened to us here,” said Mr Madigan, whose father is also named Timmy.

The family believe that they have been targeted by a roving gang, as they regularly encounter people looking around their yard.

“A week exactly before the fire, I finished up work at quarter to 12, and I came back to my own yard, and there was a Volkswagen Dublin-registered van with three boys inside snooping around my yard again,” said Mr Madigan.

The alarm was raised on March 22 shortly after 6am, when Mr Madigan’s brother-in-law heard the noise of the diesel tank blowing up, glass breaking and felt the heat of the fire from his own house.

“When we went down to the yard, the locks of the gate were cut open with an angle grinder, and the main yard light was smashed open so no one could see them. By the time I got down, one coach was already gone,” said Mr Madigan.

“I had to get the keys for the other buses then to move them out of the way, but by the time I got the keys out, the second bus had caught fire.

“I managed to move two more, but the heat caught me then, so I just put the power washer on the other two buses that were still stuck, just to keep them cool,” he added.

Mr Madigan’s quick thinking saved four of the buses. He moved two and cooled another two which were stuck in the corner with water.

His father Timmy said that the family is “very proud of his work that morning”.

They also thanked all of the family, friends and neighbours who came through the door and called following the devastating incident.

“Whatever they were trying to do, something went radically wrong, because if they were at the batteries, they were playing with fire, literally,” said Mr Madigan.

“The fact that someone drove into my yard the week before, I think they were eyeing up the diesel in the coaches,” he added.

“It was serious heat. You could see the black smoke not far from Newcastle West. The fire brigade could see where they were going to from the minute they left the station,” he added.

The company had nine buses, but are now down to seven. “They were big money, they cost €90,000 and €82,000 at the time they were bought. The current valuation came up at about €125,000,” said Mr Madigan.

Anyone in Ardagh who noticed anything suspicious should contact Newcastle West garda station at 069 20650.