Belfast businessman devastated after arson attack on shop
The son of a businessman whose shop was almost destroyed in an arson attack in west Belfast says his family has been left devastated by the blaze.
David McLarnon Jr (33) received a phone call just after 1am yesterday from an alarm company initially advising him of a potential intruder in the Glendale Carpets and Flooring premises on Kennedy Way.
They called back soon after to inform him that a fire had broken out.
He said: "I jumped straight in an Uber and was on the scene within 10 minutes.
"The flames were big but they were concentrated to the back of the building, then the wind picked up and they spread everywhere."
The manager of the family business said his dad, David McLarnon Sr, has lost a little bit of history in the "heartbreaking" fire.
"He's been here for 45 years so there's a lot of sentimental items which have been destroyed," Mr McLarnon said.
"He stuck it out during the Troubles and is well-known and respected in this community.
"My dad is a gentleman who is loved by everybody. There's never been any problems so I don't know who would do this to him."
Neighbours reported the fire after being woken up by a loud bang at around 12.45am yesterday.
"I thought it was a car accident, but when I looked out the back window you could see the flames and thick black smoke billowing out," one resident said.
Four fire engines, an aerial appliance and a command support vehicle were quickly dispatched to the scene to bring the blaze under control.
Two appliances remained at the scene yesterday evening as they continued to dampen the warehouse, which was filled with stock.
Forensic investigators were unable to enter the building, which sustained structural damage including a collapsed roof.
Mr McLarnon said the "disaster" could not have happened at a worse time, but vowed to bounce back with the help of the community.
"We are now in the mouth of Christmas which is our busiest time," he explained.
"I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and offers of help from my competitors in the industry.
"One of our units has not been damaged and we will be working out of there on Monday morning."
Two other units including Desmond Ryan Motors and Russell Roofing were badly damaged in the blaze.
Some cars were destroyed in the car repair shop, which is adjoined to the Glendale Carpets unit.
The owner of Trade Bathrooms NI said he is lucky after his unit was spared.
"It's only smoke damage," he said. "I've been extremely fortunate because the building is still intact."
PSNI Detective Inspector Tom Phillips said the fire is being treated as arson as he appealed for witnesses. "This has been a despicable attack, which will undoubtedly have a severe impact on the businesses affected," he said.
"I want to appeal to anyone who was in the area last night and who saw any suspicious activity, or anyone who may have captured any suspicious person/persons in the area on their dash cam, to call us."