Belfast Telegraph

Arson attack on Strabane social housing flat 'reckless act of complete idiocy'

By Claire Williamson

An arson attack on a social housing flat in Strabane has been described as a "reckless act of complete idiocy".

The flat in the Lisnafin Park area was destroyed in the blaze in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police received a report of the fire at the ground floor empty flat at around 5.15am.

The flat was gutted as a result of the blaze and a number of nearby properties were evacuated. Enquiries into the incident are ongoing.

SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan said the flats had only recently undergone renovation by the Housing Executive and that he was thankful there were no injuries.

He said: “The attack on flats in Lisnafin last night can only be described as a reckless act of complete idiocy.

He continued: “This sort of reckless crime has no place in Strabane and it is an absolute travesty that social housing in the area has literally gone up in flames.

"The flats involved have recently undergone renovation by the Housing Executive to try and improve the living conditions of tenants or future tenants. But all this progress has now been destroyed and I’d imagine it will take considerable time before these flats are occupied again.

“The attack that happened last night is very serious and I’d hope all those involved are apprehended. Thankfully, no one was hurt and that we are not talking about any fatalities today.”

Sinn Fein MLA Michaela Boyle said people were "horrified" at what had happened.

She said: “We could have been wakening up to a terrible tragedy this morning but thankfully the targeted flat was unoccupied at the time and adjoining properties were able to be evacuated by emergency services.

“It is equally sickening that this has happened to this block of flats, one of three in Lisnafin, which have just seen the completion of a substantial investment and upgrade by the Housing Executive.

“This upgrade work was in an effort to holistically tackle long-standing issues of poor living conditions and anti-social behaviour affecting the flats.  So as an elected representative who lobbied statutory agencies for these improvements, I feel very dejected at this setback today.

“I would appeal to anyone with information about what happened to immediately contact the authorities."

Anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area or who has any information about this incident is asked to contact detectives at Strand Road on 101 quoting reference number 539 15/10/17 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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