Bangor tradesman left with just two trowels after van burnt out
A plasterer has spoken of his devastation after his work van was set on fire, destroying equipment worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Co Down man Jonny Beattie (32), from Bangor, says he is having to restart from nothing, after only two trowels survived the blaze.
He found his white van alight in the early hours of Saturday outside the home he shares with his wife and two young children.
There were a number of arson attacks in the greater Belfast area late last week following a dispute over a bonfire in the east of the city.
Anger was sparked after police moved in to remove the material from a bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast in the early hours of Wednesday. Bonfire builders set it alight before the material could be seized.
Later on Wednesday, a bonfire was removed under police supervision before it could be lit.
On Wednesday evening a bus was hijacked and set alight in Newtownards, with a number of cars burned in Dundonald.
The incident in Bangor on Saturday is being investigated by the PSNI as a suspected arson attack.
Mr Beattie said he was woken at about 2.15am to find his van on fire.
"We were all asleep, the neighbours saw it and came over and banged the windows," Mr Beattie said. "I ran out and saw my van on fire. I tried to get some of the equipment out to save it but I couldn't. I couldn't believe it, watching my livelihood going up in flames."
As well as Mr Beattie's paid jobs, he has also been helping the family of missing Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian free of charge. Her 71-year-old father John was left homeless in April after his house was badly damaged in a fire.
Ms Dorrian disappeared after a party at a caravan site in Ballywalter in 2005.
The community in North Down came together after the fire at her father's house, with workmen volunteering for free to help the family.
Mr Beattie bought the van eight months ago.
He said said that through his company, JB Plastering and Building, he has employees dependent on him for work, and currently has 19 jobs booked in
He has estimated the cost of the van and the equipment inside, including fishing rods, as almost £40,000.
"I have been left with nothing, just two trowels, and I am not even sure whether they are worth saving," he said.
"I bought that van for £30,000, and then put the company logo on it.
"Then there was £5,000 to £8,000 worth of tools, and also my fishing rods from taking the kids out fishing. There was also paperwork and money from the last job which I didn't get time to bank."