AN Obins Drive resident has recalled the moment she was alerted to a fire at a property two doors away which police believe may have been started deliberately, writes Gillian Halliday.
The woman, who did not wish to be identified, told the Portadown Times that she woke around 4.30am on Saturday morning to get ready for work when she smelt smoke.
“I heard the (emergency services) alarms and opened the front door and there I saw the police and fire engine. I moved into the area in July and it’s a nice neighbourhood. I didn’t expect anything like this to happen,” she said.
The woman said she wasn’t aware that the property was occupied until the weekend incident.
“I keep myself to myself but I had no idea that a man was living there alone. I thought it was empty because it had been boarded up. In my home there’s only soot to clear away. There’s no damage fortunately. The firemen said the smoke came in via the roof space.”
It is understood the Housing Executive property, which was gutted by the fire, was boarded up recently after it was targeted by vandals who broke a number of windows. A police spokeswoman told the paper there was no one at home at the time of the incident.
The incident was condemned by Craigavon Policing & Community Safety Partnership member Yvonne Sterritt, who called on anyone with information to contact the police or Crimestoppers. “If the fire was arson then potentially we could be dealing with a murder investigation. Not only was the person living in the property at risk but the lives of those living close by also.”
Housing Executive contractors began carrying out repairs on Tuesday and a spokeswoman for the authority said the tenant had been offered alternative accommodation. In a statement, she said, “The fire was contained within one property and the district office arranged to have it secured until repairs have been carried out. The district office has also requested a fire report to determine the cause of the fire. The tenant was offered temporary accommodation but he has decided to make his own arrangements.”
Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed any activity around the house or has information in relation to the fire to contact them on 0845 600 8000. If you prefer to provide information without giving your details you can contact the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.