Fire-fighting crews from different stations throughout West Cork are in Skibbereen tackling a blaze at the old convent site at North Street, Skibbereen.
Gardaí and ambulance crews are also on scene since the fire broke out earlier this afternoon and it is expected that the flatlets for the elderly, which are located beneath the imposing but now derelict edifice, have been evacuated.
Billowing smoke has filled the sky and the kind of flames shooting out the roof have not – ironically – been seen since The Church Restaurant, in a different part of town, went on fire in 2006.
Neither the gardaí nor the fire brigade can confirm at this stage the cause of the fire, but it is a major incident that will require every available resource to get it under control.
Just last week The Southern Star carried a report that Cork County Council was considering planning permission for the €10m redevelopment of the complex.
The owner and the prospective owner - who agreed to buy the buildings subject to planning permission being granted - were not available for comment this afternoon.