Fire at Point on 20th March 2004

The Lismore people have good reason to be grateful to their volunteer firefighters after they dealt with what could have become a disaster at Point. It started when Professor John Gage of Dunstaffnage, who is renovating the old Smithy, parked his car and caught the 5pm ferry to Port Appin. His Fiat Uno had been backfiring but the last thing he expected as he looked back from the water was to see it ablaze. The ferryman went back immediately but someone had already rung 999 and within minutes Duncan Brooks, the volunteer fire leader, and Gill Bridle were at the fire hut loading the 4 stroke petrol engine and the 2 portable fire pumps capable of carrying 250 gallons of water per minute. Duncan left his mother to phone the rest of the crew four of whom were available and responded rapidly: Mairi Perkins, Guillesbuig Black, John Derham and Mark Willis. However by the time the 3 nozzles were in action, a Nissan Micra next to the Uno was ablaze, petrol tanks were exploding, and it looked as though the entire row if not the car park could go off like a box of crackers. At this point Mark Willis jumped into a Volvo and backed it out making a fire break on one side. The Landrover on the other side did get badly scorched but fortunately the wind had dropped and they got the fire under control before it spread further. Most alarming was that the island Ambulance, parked opposite, was carrying a number of oxygen cylinders.

Duncan praised his crew for their skilful operation of what is really makeshift equipment. With a strong wind and the volunteers not available the whole lot would have gone. Of the nine crew only John Carmichael and Dougie MacDougall were missing but even they, seeing the blaze from the ploughing match in Appin, came immediately. Dave Meddes, a full time fire fighter in Oban, was also called but the fire was out before he got to Connel.

The irony is that since October 2003 Lismore has had a brand new Fire Station waiting for a proper engine to replace the 4 stroke stored in a tiny hut. Bill Grant, a spokesman for Strathclyde Fire Board: Although the fire station looks finished there are certain things the clerk of works is not happy with, and Strathclyde cannot pay for and take possession of the station until the work is done. A Mercedes volunteer unit (fire engine) is on its way but he couldn’t say exactly when it would come.

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