Northern Ireland news

Fire at west Belfast block of flats caused by `deliberate ignition'

The Fire Service said a blaze at Ross Street flats in the lower Falls in west Belfast was caused by `deliberate ignition'
Marie Louise McConville

The Fire Service said a blaze which caused damage to a block of flats in west Belfast was caused by "deliberate ignition".

Firefighters were called to Ross Street in the lower Falls just before 11.40pm yesterday.

It is understood anti-social youths were responsible for the fire at the block of flats, which are earmarked for demolition as part of plans to build 20 new homes and four new apartments in the area.

Firefighters, who used three jets, a hose reel jet and an aerial appliance to extinguish the fire, said there was "no one in the building at the time of the fire".

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said the cause of the fire, which was brought under control by 1.43am "is believed to have been deliberate ignition".

Sinn Féin assembly member Fra McCann said a crowd of up to 20 young people, aged between 11 and 17, had been at the site "smashing windows....and setting fires".

He said it was hoped the flats would be demolished by the end of August with the first of the new homes built by the end of 2022.

Mr McCann said: "The difficulty is, it is not the first time this has happened.

"Numerous times, local residents have been tortured by people trying to set fire to these flats and wrecking havoc.

"We are trying to ensure whatever safety precautions that can be taken, are taken".

A PSNI spokesman, who appealed for information, said the fire could have had a "devastating impact on those people living in the local community.

“I would appeal to anyone involved to stop and think about the consequences of such actions," he said.

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Northern Ireland news