17/08/2006

Recreation centre damaged in arson attack

Police are treating a fire at a recreation centre in County Down as malicious.

The incident happened at a football club in the Langley Road area of Ballynahinch just before 3am this morning.

Four fire appliances were dispatched to the blaze and on their arrival, discovered a number of bins had been stacked together against a wall and set alight, causing the rest of the building to go up in flames.

It is understood that half of the roof was destroyed in the blaze, and fire-fighters spent just over two hours trying to bring it under control.

Downpatrick station commander Brian Irvine said that the flames spread to the roof of the centre, which had been used recently by a local summer scheme and is also used for football and hockey matches.

He continued by saying that fire crews were able to contain the fire, and managed to save half of the building.

He added: "Locals on the scene were devastated. This is a fantastic community resource and it would seem someone or some people have set out to destroy it."

Detectives are carrying out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire.

(EF)


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