Home owner furious after blaze at school
As St Ronan's College celebrated winning the Hogan Cup on Saturday, an arson attack led to the destruction of part of the site of their new school.
And such was the ferocity of the blaze at the former St Michael’s Grammar School site, it caused the owner of the neighbouring property to fear it too might go up in flames.
A shocking video of the incident taken by the home owner showed a towering inferno of flames lapping across a hedge and showering burning ash towards his home.
The blaze, which the NI Fire and Rescue Service described as ‘deliberate’, started on Saturday evening.
Three appliances, two from Lurgan and one from Portadown arrived shortly after receiving the emergency call at 8.41pm.
Assistant Group Commander Victor Spence said the fire was in a derelict Portacabin and it was brought under control fairly quickly.
“The incident was dealt with at 9.36pm.”
The home owner said the sheer heat from the fire caused one of the windows in his home to shatter.
“It was a good thing we were at home and not in bed,” he said.
“And we recently changed from oil to gas. The fireman told me if the oil tank had still been there, it would have been a whole different story.”
He said he was sick to death of the anti-social behaviour and what he said was a lack of security at the site.
“I can’t live like this anymore. Our home could have been torched,” he said.
“To say that I am disappointed in the school management of the property is an understatement,” he added.
St Ronan’s College principal Michelle Corkey said they were doing everything they could do keep the derelict site secure. However, she added that they were unable to demolish the buildings until planning permission had been approved.
She added that she hoped the local community could be viligant to help protect the site. And she voiced concern that there were so many young people involved in anti-social behaviour.
Sinn Fein Cllr Keith Haughian condemned the arson attack saying: “As well as posing a danger to themselves those involved posed a real risk to the emergency services called out to deal with it.
“This fire also caused damage to a home which sits directly behind the site. Understandably this has caused serious distress amongst nearby residents who I have spoken with.
“We had raised concerns last year, at a North Lurgan Forum meeting, that this derelict site could become a magnet for anti social behaviour.
“While this hasn’t been as significant as some had feared this latest development shows that the site requires urgent attention.
“I have contacted council officials to request an urgent meeting with all relevant bodies to ensure the concerns of locals are realised and addressed.
“On behalf of them I would send a clear message to those involved to cease this reckless and senseless behaviour immediately.”