The tragic death of a thirty-year-old man in the fire that engulfed Finlay’s casket plant at Tierney Street Ardee on Monday evening, has caused widespread shock and sadness in the town.
The man, who is from Lithuania, lived in Ardee.
The blaze broke out in the workshops at about 5.15pm when most of the staff had gone home.
At one point the flames were 30ft high as the the smoke billowed from the plant.
Residents close to the workshops had to be evacuated for a short time because of fears of explosions from the paints and chemicals in the workshops.
And the residents of nearby Moorehall Lodge were also evacuated as a precaution.
“Our emergency evacuation plan was activated in a calm and successful manner on a purely precautionary basis and residents were moved to another part of the Moorehall Lodge complex,” said Moorehall Lodge chief executive Sean McCoy.
“We were delighted with the response of our staff, and as part of our emergency plan, off-duty staff members also responded.
“Moorehall Lodge is at the heart of the community and we would like to thank our neighbours, friends and residents’ families who also offered assistance.
“Our residents returned to their households within a short period of time.”
“Our thought and prayers are with the family of the deceased, Coleman Finlay and their staff, at this very difficult and traumatic time.”
Eleven units of the Louth fire service, from Ardee, Dundalk, Dunleer, and Drogheda, fought the blaze, but firefighters could not enter the building until 10pm.
“Once we got water onto the roof, we got it under control,” a spokesperson for the fire service said. She expressed sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased.
Fr Peter Murphy, parish priest of Ardee said the whole parish was upset by this tragic loss of life.
He said the deceased was “very well liked among his colleagues and friends around Ardee.
“He has a family in Ardee,” Fr Murphy said. “It is a difficult time for colleagues and friends.
“The fire seemed to take hold very rapidly. The fire service was working ferociously to control the flames.
“Finlay’s has been a great source of local employment in Ardee and hopefully it will be back soon.”
Cllr Finnan McCoy said it “was like a furnace” and the heat was “unbearable”.
“I’d like to sympathise with the family and friends of the man who lost his life” he said.
“It’s a tragic loss.
“It is also a loss for all who work in Finlay’s, and indeed there is also the loss of employment now following the extensive damage.”