Dunluce Centre fire: Police treating blaze as arson

Fire service at the scene at Dunluce Centre in Portrush. Credit: NIFRS North/Facebook

Police are treating a fire at the Dunluce Centre in Portrush on Monday night as arson.

Officers investigating the blaze believe the fire was started after access was gained to the building through a vent on the lower ground floor.

Sergeant McCrystal said: “Shortly before 9.20pm yesterday, Monday 8 August, officers received and responded to a report of a fire at the Dunluce Centre at Sandhill Drive in the town.

“Colleagues from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service also attended the scene, and managed to extinguish the blaze, which has resulted in damage being caused to a soft play area inside the building.“Fortunately, there no one was inside the premises at the time of the incident, and there were no reports of any injuries.“It’s believed at this stage that the fire was started after access was gained to the building via a vent on the lower ground floor."

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the Fire Service said 46 firefighters attended the at the height of the blaze.

"There were six fire Appliances in attendance - two from Portrush, two from Coleraine, one from Portstewart and one from Ballymoney," its statement added.

A spokesperson added: “There was also an aerial appliance from Derry/Londonderry and a support Vehicle from Kilrea in attendance. There were 46 Firefighters at the scene at the height of the incident.

Firefighters at the scene. Credit: NIFRS North/Facebook

 “The incident was dealt with by 11.03pm."

East Londonderry MLA Cara Hunter said: “The community in Portrush is deeply concerned by this suspected arson attack at the site of the Dunluce Centre.

"This large blaze required nearly 50 firefighters to tackle it and we’re lucky that nobody was injured as a result of this fire.

“I am aware that anti-social behaviour has been a problem in this area for some time and it’s extremely disheartening that the situation has ended in this way. I hope efforts will be made to secure the building to prevent any further damage while the situation is assessed."

Independent unionist Claire Sugden praised the fire service for its quick response.

“If it wasn’t for the quick response of firefighters to this incident, the result could have been much worse,” she said.

"Crews were on hand within minutes to help stop the blaze from becoming much more significant. She added: "Concerns have been raised about security and access at the unused centre. “This must, and will, be investigated further and those responsible must be brought to justice. “Despite being an abandoned building there is still a significant risk to people’s lives with a fire of this magnitude – not least to those brave men and women whose job it is to tackle them. “Those behind this need to realise the danger they are putting the emergency services in. It quite simply shows a callous disregard for life."

Police are appealing for information and witnesses in relation to the fire.Sergeant McCrystal added: “Our enquiries into this incident, which we are treating as arson, are ongoing, and we are appealing to anyone who may have any information which could assist us, or who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area at the time, to contact 101, and quote reference number 2014 of 08/08/22.”

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