An MLA has called for an investigation after it was revealed that 17 listed buildings have gone up in flames in the past five years – with eight of those in the last 12 months alone.
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister raised his concerns after Environment Minister Alex Attwood confirmed the alarming statistics following an Assembly Question.
And he has asked the Department of the Environment to investigate the recent spate of blazes.
North Antrim MLA Mr Allister said: “It is important that the department fully explores this issue and, therefore, it is appropriate that in his reply the minister commits to examining the detail of every one of the recent fires.”
Mr Attwood said that between 2006 to 2010 there were eight fires which affected listed buildings and that in the current year there have been eight fires to date.
In March this year, the historic Lisdalgan House in Saintfield suffered extensive damage in a fire which police confirmed they were treating as suspicious.
The following month, the listed Favour Royal House in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, was badly damaged in a case of suspected arson, resulting in two arrests.
On May 21, the Victorian-era Hilden Mill, once described as the “gem in the industrial crown of Lisburn”, was saved from total destruction by firefighters.
Mr Attwood said: “I am committed to doing everything in my power to preserve our built heritage.”