Belfast Telegraph

Men charged with arson after 'intense fire' at east Belfast flats

Residents were evacuated and taken to the local community centre for shelter

By Claire Williamson

Two men have been charged with arson with intent to endanger life after a blaze at a block of flats in east Belfast.

Just after 2.50am on Saturday police received the report of the fire in Dunlop House in The Mount area of the city.

A number of residents were evacuated from their homes overnight as a blaze took hold.

A 32-year-old man has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life and two counts of burglary.

Another man, aged 20, has also been charged with arson with intent to endanger life, burglary and burglary with intent to cause unlawful damage.

Both men are due to appear before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Police also arrested an 18-year-old woman in connection with the incident but she has since been released pending a report to the PPS.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service also attended the scene.

Evacuated residents were taken to a local community centre for shelter.

Around 30 firefighters attempted to bring the blaze under control.

Assistance Group Commander Michael Roberts said: "The fire was on the top floor of the three storey building.

"It was a very intense fire and so much so it breached the roof. So the crews had a job on their hand to bring it under control. It was a very intense heat and at the same time making sure all the residents had evacuated the building.

"We left the scene at 6am. so it was just over 3 hours."

"There were no injuries Two people were treated at the scene by the ambulance service for suspected smoke inhalation."

The Woodstock Link was also closed to traffic for a time while the fire was brought under control.

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson praised the response by emergency services to the blaze.

He said: "I want to pass on huge thanks to the PSNI, Fire Service, Housing Executive, Belfast City Council and Belfast Trust who all responded to this emergency.

"This was a reckless attack resulting in a real risk to life but thankfully there were no injuries. All the residents have either been accommodated with family and friends or by NIHE and the Trust.

"An arrest has been made but the coordinated action of so many agencies helped ensure the outcome was not much worse."

Detective Sergeant Michael Hawthorne said: "The 32 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life and he is currently in custody assisting police with their enquiries.

"We are lucky that we are not dealing with any serious injuries as a result of this fire and I would ask anyone with any information about this incident to contact detectives at Musgrave Police Station on the non emergency number 101.

"Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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