Belfast Telegraph

Arson attack guts row of houses in Antrim

By Jonathan Bell

Firefighters who battled to save lives were praised for their courage and heroism after a devastating blaze in Co Antrim.

Police said six homes were extensively damaged at Ballyduff Gardens in Newtownabbey on Saturday evening.

They are treating it as arson after an oil tank was set on fire just before 6pm.

One woman whose house was gutted said he was "completely and utterly devastated".

"It's the worst thing in the world... just watching the house burn up. I've lost everything," she told the BBC.

Multiple fire crews were scrambled to the scene of the intense inferno.

Firefighters battled to contain the blaze and stopping it spreading to a large oil tank.

They also entered the properties to check for anyone who may not have been able to escape.

At one point 50 crew were tackling the fire.

One man was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by medics.

The Fire Service said: "Thankfully on this occasion the swift response from firefighters has prevented any serious injury, loss of life or further fire spread to adjacent properties."

Newtownabbey mayor Paul Hamill said the actions of the firefighters undoubtedly saved lives.

He said: "They were so courageous, they battled hard to contain it.

"When they arrived the fire was out of control and they worked very quickly to contain it.

"They searched the properties for people without a second thought.

"And when they were done their faces were black with soot and they were absolutely shattered.

"Had it not been for their heroic actions this could have been so much more worse."

While six homes have been extensively damaged, it's understood other properties were also been affected.

Mr Hamill said the nearby Valley Leisure Centre was opened to help those families who had to flee their homes.

He also praised the community spirit which was evident as neighbours came out to help those affected.

"It is obviously devastating for these families. Homes have been destroyed and others badly damaged," he said.

"But we have to be grateful there has been no loss of life.

"It really could have been that serious."

Belfast Telegraph

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