Video: Praise for 'heroic, courageous' firefighters after devastating Northern Ireland blaze
Firefighters who battled to save lives were praised for their courage and heroism after a devastating fire in Newtownabbey.
Police said six homes were extensively damaged in the incident at Ballyduff Gardens on Saturday evening. They are treating it as deliberate.
An oil tank was set on fire just before 6pm sparking a major incident.
Multiple fire crews were scrambled to the scene of the intense fire. Firefighters battled to contain the blaze in stopping it spreading to a large oil tank. They also entered the properties to check for anyone who may not have been able to escape.
At one point 50 firefighters were at the scene. One man was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by medics.
"Thankfully on this occasion the swift response from firefighters has prevented any serious injury, loss of life or further fire spread to adjacent properties," the Fire Service said.
Newtownabbey Mayor Paul Hamill said the actions of the firefighters undoubtedly saved lives.
"They were so courageous, they battled hard to contain it," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"When they arrived the fire was out of control and they worked very quickly to contain it. They searched the properties for people without a second thought.
"And when they were done their faces were black with soot and they were absolutely shattered.
"Had it not been for their heroic actions this could have been so much more worse."
While six homes have been extensively damaged, it's understood other properties have been hit.
The DUP councillor said the nearby Valley Leisure Centre was opened to help those families put out of their homes and the community spirit was evident as neighbours came out to help those affected.
"It is obviously devastating for these families. Homes have been destroyed and others badly damaged," Councillor Hamill continued.
"But we have to be grateful there has been no loss of life. It really could have been that serious."
Police said they are treating the incident as deliberate and have appealed for anyone with information to contact investigating officers on 101.
Belfast Telegraph Digital