Belfast Telegraph

'Sinister' fires at Belfast homes - residents 'lucky to be alive'

Residents at two homes targeted in a suspected arson attack are "lucky to be alive," a Sinn Fein MLA has said.

MLA Caral Ni Chuilin said the fires occurred on the New Lodge road on Tuesday morning.

The North Belfast MLA said: “The fires occurred at maisonettes on the lower New Lodge road this morning, causing extensive damage to homes.

“People are lucky to be alive, but thankfully due to working smoke alarms in the homes, no one has been seriously hurt.

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Damage inside one of the homes on New Lodge Road. Credit: Caral Ni Chuilin

She said: “Police and forensic teams on the scene have informed local residents that the fires are being treated as sinister.

"Whilst it is unclear how this has happened, it is clear is that someone could have died as a result.

“I am working with the Housing Executive and local residents to ensure that the people affected are rehoused in adequate accommodation as soon as possible.”

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Flats have been damaged in a double arson attack. The properties, on the New Lodge Road in North Belfast, appear to have suffered extensive damage Mandatory Credit: Stephen Hamilton Presseye

A Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) spokesperson said crews attended two incidents.

They added: “The first call was received at 6.03am to a fire in a ground floor flat. The fire was already out of arrival of the fire crews. A search of the building was completed and all people were accounted for. The cause of the fire was deliberate and PSNI attended the incident.

"NIFRS left the scene at 6.39am.

“A second call, to a different flat within the same building, was received at 7.14am. The call was received as a carbon monoxide alarm sounding in a flat on the first floor."

Police said both flats were unoccupied at the time of the incident but a woman in an adjoining flat was treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.

Detective Inspector Denis McGaffin stated: “We are lucky not to be dealing with serious injuries or death as a result of this reckless action. 

"A robust investigation has now commenced and I am appealing for anyone who witnessed the incidents or anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation to contact Detectives in Musgrave on 101 quoting reference 159 14/08/18. 

"Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime."

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