Upperland's firm hoping to bounce back after fire

The building where the fire happened
The building where the fire happened

Business at Clark’s textile plant in Upperlands is getting back to normal after Sunday’s fire, which damaged one of its buildings.

Up to 30 firefighters fought the blaze at the historic mill - dating back to 1736 - and reckoned to be Ireland’s oldest manufacturer’s of linen.

A Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said they deployed three pumping appliances and three specialist appliances to the scene on the Kilrea Road.

Water from the linen manufacturer’s nearby dams on the Clady River was used to fight the flames and confine the fire to one building which dates back 150 years.

It is understood the fire was spotted by someone out walking their dog.

The firm’s managing director, Kevin Devlin, told the BBC that the building itself seemed to be pretty extensively damaged and there is some machinery kept in there and some raw materials.

“But, it’s been isolated to that particular unit, so I think we’ve been quite fortunate in that aspect,” he said.

Company director Robert Clark said: “It will affect one process but hopefully we’ll be back to normal very soon.”

DUP Mid Ulster Councillor Anne Forde, who is from the Maghera area, said news of the fire was “disappointing”, but she hoped production wouldn’t be affected and manufacturing would continue.

She said she expected an investigation to be carried out but it was her understanding the fire was not malicious.

“Clark’s has a long association with Upperlands and have kept many people in jobs over the years,” she said.

She added that it was fortunate the fire took place on a Sunday when no one was working.

Back in March 2008 a fire damaged a derelict building at the premises in what police suspected to be an arson attack.

At the time residents in the village were told to remain indoors with doors and windows closed due to smoke and the possibility of dangerous fumes.