Youths attack firefighters for second night in a row
Fire crews attending reports of a blaze in Co Antrim were ambushed by a gang of youths who had faked an emergency call-out to lure them into their trap for a second successive night.
The NI Fire and Rescue Service officers were pelted with rocks and stones by the gang near a block of derelict flats in the Dunclug Gardens area of Ballymena shortly after 11pm last night.
Group Commander Bobby Harper described the incident as a well " orchestrated attack" which put the lives of his crew and those in the community at serious risk.
"These people have got to understand that when they are attacking the emergency services they are attacking their own communities," Mr Harper said.
"The attacks can have serious consequences.
"We were very lucky last night that no-one was seriously hurt.
"If the driver had lost control of the fire appliance it could have caused serious injury.
"It was a residential area and there were a number of bystanders about," the commander added.
"Not only that but for a period of time, while we were attending this call out, fire cover in Ballymena was severely reduced."
While no-one was hurt during the incident, the windscreen of the fire engine was broken and damage was caused to the vehicle making it unsafe to use.
Group Commander Harper said it would now be out of service until it was repaired and fire cover in the Ballymena area would be reduced as a consequence.
He added that he would be seeking a meeting with local representatives to try to resolve the issue.
A PSNI spokeswoman condemned the attack on the fire service saying that police were now investigating a case of criminal damage.