Trio escape from flat as fireball car destroys Chinese takeaway in Crumlin
Three people have escaped with their lives after being trapped behind their burning home when a car smashed into the shutters of a Chinese takeaway.
A car parked in Crumlin's Main Street on Saturday morning was transformed into a moving fireball as it crossed the street and crashed into the front of the fast food outlet.
The burning vehicle exploded, and the flames rapidly spread to the flat upstairs where the residents were forced to flee out of the back.
Councillor Thomas Burns said it was a terrifying experience for the victims.
"They had absolutely no warning that the fire was starting, and they were very lucky they were able to escape," he said.
"Everybody was asleep and it was very, very quiet at that time of the morning.
"Suddenly for there to be a bang, and the fire to be at such a height so quickly, and the flames coming up in round them – those people were absolutely terrified. They just didn't know what had happened," he added.
While the trio were able to leave their end-terrace flat, they remained stuck yards from the blazing building until help arrived.
"This gate would be locked normally, so they had to stay way at the back until the fire brigade came. They were trapped behind the gate," he said.
"The firemen said they'd never seen a fire spread so quickly. The burning car going straight into the shop caught everything alight straightaway.
"People just can't understand it, but the car had the momentum to get up over the curb and hit the Chinese restaurant at full pelt.
"It was well lit at that stage, and when it hit the building, the car just exploded. The fire then burst into the Chinese and caught the upstairs."
The victims were not injured in the blaze, but they have been forced to abandon their home and belongings, both of which were destroyed by the flames.
The popular takeaway is shut, and the melted sign on the ice cream parlour next door is a potent reminder of what happened at the weekend.
While the restaurant owners survey the cost of the blaze, it has also affected how locals view the safety of their town.
"The people who would park their cars on the street now think it's not really a safe place.
"If you were driving through here early in the morning, there wouldn't be a car about now," added the SDLP councillor. It is understood the PSNI is examining security camera footage of the arson attack, which shows the burning car moving across the street and ramming the restaurant.
Sergeant Jonathan Francey said: "I would ask the owner of the silver Peugeot van to contact police.
"I believe that they would have parked the van on Friday evening in Main Street, Crumlin, outside the pet shop."