POLICE are continuing to investigate the cause of a fire at a former pub in Gilford, during which residents nearby were forced to evacuate their homes.
The building, which used to be known as ‘Wee Minnies Pub’ was found to be ablaze at around 3am on Saturday morning.
While the cause of the fire has not been established police said a man was seen running away from the area and getting into a car shortly before the fire started.
Local councillor John Hanna said he sympathised with people who had to leave their homes in the early hours of the morning because of the blaze.
“I’m sorry to hear that people had to leave their homes,” he said. “The building is an old and well-established premises in the area. And I regret that it will affect that part of Gilford in a negative way.
“That is another derelict building in Gilford and I would have like to see it sold and put to good use. “To think there’s a possibility it was malicious rather than accidental makes this situation all the worse.”
Police said a male wearing a red hooded top and dark track bottoms was seen running away from the property and getting into a red coloured Vauxhall car shortly before the fire started.
Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed this incident or anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area to contact them at Banbridge on 0845 600 8000 or anonymously on 0800 555 111.