Arson feared after derelict warehouse goes up in smoke
Up to 50 firefighters were called out to tackle a major blaze in Portavogie yesterday.
A derelict warehouse believed to be part of the former Euro Shellfish factory caught fire during the afternoon
The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service was called to the scene on Princess Anne Road just before 2.30pm.
Ten fire appliances, an aerial device and 50 firefighters from as far away as Lisburn were involved in the response.
A cause has not yet been established, but it is understood that arsonists have targeted the building twice in the past two years.
Local DUP councillor Robert Adair praised firefighters and said that, with a forecourt and houses nearby, the blaze could have been a major incident.
"I believe the quick response of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service saved the day," he added.
"The fire was close to a filling station and homes. I am thankful no one was injured."
Mr Adair explained that the former factory, which closed in 2011 with the loss of 30 jobs, was currently being considered for refurbishment.
He added that the blaze was a setback because it had come at a positive time for the village, with investment in a number of old buildings close to the harbour bringing regeneration.
"Portavogie has moved on in recent years, with investment in the public realm and many of the formerly derelict properties being brought back into use again," the councillor said.
"There have been talks about bringing this building back into use. This makes this fire even more regrettable."
A spokesman for the Fire Service said personnel remained at the scene for a time after the blaze was extinguished.
"We received the call at 14.26pm and responded with appliances from Ballywalter, Portaferry and Newtownards," he said.
"These appliances were supported with further resources from Belfast and Lisburn.
"At its height there were 10 appliances, including an aerial appliance and approximately 50 personnel, on scene. The fire has been extinguished and there is no danger to the public.
"Crews are likely to remain on scene for a short time to prevent further fire spread."