Four families forced to leave homes following arson attack in Newcastle
Four families were forced to leave their homes overnight in Co Down after a wheelie bin was set alight beside oil tanks which caught ablaze.
Police say that the fire at Bracken Avenue, Newcastle caused "substantial damage" to nearby flats and fencing but no-one was injured.
The suspected arson attack was condemned by South Down MP Margaret Ritchie, who said that four families had to leave their homes in the early hours of Sunday morning to escape the blaze.
The SDLP politician said: “Four families have been forced from their homes and are now picking up the pieces from this senseless and deplorable act of destruction. I’m sure it has caused them great distress and our thoughts will be with them in the time ahead.
"This is not the first time that this has happened and it is very fortunate that nobody was harmed. That their lives were put in danger is utterly shameful and beyond the danger posed to the families, the deliberate destruction of social housing at a time when waiting lists are so long is deeply disappointing."
She said that three of the families had since found temporary accommodation with friends and family.
Local SDLP Councillor Laura Devlin added: “There is real shock and disgust within the local community following this horrible attack.
“Those responsible must be brought to task and so I encourage anyone with any relevant information to contact police immediately.”
Detective Sergeant Trish Bardon has appealed to anyone who has any information about this incident to contact detectives in Downpatrick on 101 quoting reference number 278 30/10/16 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.