Crew 'diverted from Orange blaze'
Published 01/07/2011 | 10:22
An Orange hall destroyed in an overnight fire was targeted by arsonists who may have used diversionary tactics to keep the emergency services from the area, Orangemen have claimed.
The isolated building in Inver Road, near Rosslea in Co Fermanagh, was gutted in the blaze, which was only discovered at around 6am after it had burnt itself out.
Orange Order secretary Drew Nelson said he understood a phoney 999 call was made around the same time of the fire, reporting an incident in nearby Lisnaskea.
"This looks like a very well-organised attack on the hall," he said. "We understand that the people responsible may even have used diversionary tactics to keep the emergency services from the area at the time."
Mr Nelson, who will visit the hall to inspect the damage, said the hall played an important role in the small Fermanagh community.
"This is a hall which was at the cutting edge of work we're doing in the community in many different areas," he said. "Its facilities were used by different organisations and it played an important part in local life. This is an attack on Protestant and Orange culture in the area and is a very worrying development."
It later emerged that a genuine fire was reported in Lisnaskea during the night. But a spokeswoman for the Fire and Rescue Service revealed that it had been started deliberately.
Firefighters were called to the blaze in an outhouse in the Carrowshee Park area of the town around 3.50am. Two appliances from Lisnaskea and one from Enniskillen attended. The same appliances from Lisnaskea subsequently went to the Orange Hall when that fire was first discovered at 6.17am.
The police spokesman said no evidence of a connection had yet been found.
"PSNI have no evidence to link the two incidents," he said. "The fire call to Lisnaskea was a genuine one and was reported by the fire service to police at 3.53am. The fire at Rosslea was spotted at about 5.30am. A full investigation of the scene at Rosslea is being carried out by police crime scene investigators and specialist fire service investigators. The cause of the fire has not been established."