Strabane mill damaged in blaze
Published 30/07/2011 | 09:22
A fire has damaged a listed mill near Strabane.
The former Herdman's Mill, Sion Mills, was damaged by the blaze in the early hours of Saturday morning.
A fire was well established on the fourth and fifth floors of the premises.
It took approximately three hours to bring under control and was attended by fire appliances from Strabane, Londonderry, Newtownstewart and Castlederg. A total of four pumping appliances and one aerial appliance were in use.
The cause is unknown and further investigation is to be carried out by the fire service and PSNI.
Last week, Ulster Bank appointed a receiver to the building, ending more than 170 years of ownership for the Herdman family. It had hoped to redevelop the 60-acre site which dominates the village.
Celia Ferguson, a member of the Herdman family and a trustee of the Sion Mills Building Preservation Trust, said a new part of the mill built in 1907 had been completely destroyed.
"It's spread right down the roof of the main building which is the iconic building," she told the BBC. "But hopefully the rest of that building will be intact."
Dr Anthony McCann, who lectures in heritage studies at the University of Ulster, said: "This is tragic. It comes at a time when the Sion Mills Trust has had such success raising funds... for restoration of the Sion Mills stables. Now, more than ever we need to focus energies on full restoration of this important site."
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "This was a great building and an icon of the local area. The fire at the mill damages a jewel in our built heritage. I shall work closely with everyone involved to try to save and protect the building."