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Arsonists leave four families homeless as oil tanks set ablaze

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Forensic officer at scene of incident in Ballycastle at weekend

Forensic officer at scene of incident in Ballycastle at weekend

Forensic officer at scene of incident in Ballycastle at weekend

Four families have been forced from their homes following an arson attack in Newcastle in the early hours of yesterday.

Police confirmed the blaze at Bracken Avenue was deliberate. No one was hurt.

A wheelie bin is believed to have been set on fire and pushed against oil tanks causing them to ignite at around 1.30am.

Substantial damage was caused to the nearby flats and fencing, the PSNI said.

SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said: "Four families have been forced from their homes and are now picking up the pieces from this senseless and deplorable act of destruction.

"I'm sure it has caused them great distress and our thoughts will be with them in the time ahead.

"The local community stand in solidarity with them and I'm sure they will assist in any way possible as they get back on their feet.

"I'm pleased to hear that at least three of the families have found temporary accommodation with friends and family." She said it was very fortunate that nobody was harmed in the inferno.

Ms Ritchie added: "That their lives were put in danger is utterly shameful, and beyond the danger posed to the families, the deliberate destruction of social housing at a time when waiting lists are so long is deeply disappointing."

Meanwhile, police are investigating two separate arson attacks over the weekend.

In the early hours of Saturday the front door of a home at Trasna Way in Craigavon was set alight. Substantial damage was caused to the door and the hall with smoke damage throughout the property.

Police said a man and a woman were fortunate to escape unharmed.

In another incident at around 2am on Saturday, two adults had to escape through a window of a flat in Broombeg, Ballycastle, when the front door was set alight.

Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

Belfast Telegraph