In 1986 Mr. J. Murphy (Sub Officer) retired his position after 47 years in the fire service. Mr. J. Traynor then took up the position as sub-officer. Also in that year Mr. J. Ryan was appointed Fire Prevention Officer for Kilkenny City and County. He had previously served with Limerick City and Cork County.
On Tuesday the 15th of July 15 09.24 a call came into the watchroom of Kilkenny City Fire Station from B. Bergin (Safety Officer in Avonmore) to say that there was hot spots in one of their milk power silos. At 09.29 hours Freshford Fire Brigade was on their way to Avonmore. At 10.30 Mr. J. Ryan, Assistant Fire Chief, was at Avonmore. The fire was inside the silo and Freshford was damping it down. The silo was 70 foot high and at this stage was hot to the touch.
At 11:03 Mr. J. Ryan requested assistance from Kilkenny City. At 11.08 Kilkenny City turned out its water tender. The water tender arrived at 11.30. These two brigades sprayed Jets of water onto the side of the silo to keep it cool. This went on for many hours. At 17.00 Mr. J. Ryan contacted Mr. J. L'Estrange of Dublin Fire Brigade and asked him if he would be able to get a Thermal Imaging Camera. At 18.30 he arrived at Avonmore.
A Thermal Image Camera allows you to look through steel to see hot spots.
At 18.45 Mr. C. Cormican, A.C.P.O. arrived at Avonmore. At 19.30 Captain Hugh Corrigan arrived on the scene. Captain Corrigan, fearing a dust explosion, got the firemen to put a vent in the top of the silo and remove all glass from the windows on the upper floor. No one was allowed into the four storey building only firemen and senior members of the Avonmore Staff.
Captain Corrigan, seeing that he had an unusual fire to deal with, so with his other senior officers began to work out a plan of action. Captain Corrigan knew that this fire could go on for many hours or even many days, so a shift system was set up using every brigade in the county on 8 hour shifts of 10 firemen each shift. This went on for three days. On the third day seven Breathing Apparatus men went up to the top floor and opened the silo. The water was turned off for a few minutes and a gauge was put in to read the temperature. When the gauge was inserted at 18.12 it was at 47 ºC and at 18.18 it had shot up to over 100ºC. The silo was closed again and the water was turned back on. Because of the big water demand the fire engines were draining Avonmore's water supply so it was decided to make down to a nearby river. Overall it took 8 days of cooling down to extinguish this fire. On the 8th day when the silo was re-opened it was seen that the milk powder had turned solid. It took 75 firemen with 350 million gallons of water 8 days to put out this fire.