Residents in a quiet Portadown cul-de-sac suffered a rude awakening in the early hours of Sunday morning when an ice cream van was set alight and the electricity in all 30 houses had to be turned off for around five hours.
The van, which was parked outside a house at Mayesfield Villas, off the Old Gilford Road, was gutted in the blaze, which, says the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), was being treated as deliberate. Three cars were damaged, one a write-off.
The house sustained smoke damage, and Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) engineers were called to the scene by fire officers to deal with an electrical scare – engineers had to turn off the power to the entire development as a precaution.
A statement from NIFRS headquarters in Lisburn confirmed, “The incident is being treated as a deliberate fire, and information has been passed through to the PSNI. We cannot comment any further than that, pending the police inquiries.”
Two fire appliances – one from Portadown and a second from Lurgan – tackled the blaze, with four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus, due to the dense smoke
A number of Maysfield residents left their homes for a short time during the drama, but only one house – that of the van’s owner - was badly affected, with the gable wall scorched and with smoke damage a factor.
One resident told the Portadown Times afterwards, “The blaze was really dramatic when the fire fighters arrived. The van was well alight.
“But they soon had it under control, using some sort of foam. It was brilliant, swift and brave action all round, both by the fire service personnel and by the NIE.”
Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them in Portadown on 101, quoting the reference 224 280615.
A police statement did not elaborate on the fire service confirmation that the fire was arson, but said that investigations were on-going. They appealed for witnesses to the incident to get in touch.