RESIDENTS of Scarva Walk have spoken of their terror after having to be evacuated from their homes when one of the flats nearby was deliberately set alight.
The area, which is home to a number of pensioners and people living alone, was covered in smoke and soot on Friday evening as fire officers tackled the blaze after receiving a 999 call around 8.40pm on Friday.
No-one was in the flat at the time and there were no injuries. As of yesterday afternoon the exact cause of the fire had still not been determined.
One woman recalled hearing a bang and opening her door to see thick, black smoke billow towards her. She credited three teens who knocked on her door to alert her to the fire with saving her life.
“If it wasn’t for them I don’t even want to think about what would have happened,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named. “Myself and my son were in the house and we heard the bang, then the three boys came to the door and shouted ‘Mrs, get out of your house!’
“I panicked and when I ran to the front door I could barely see the wee boys for the smoke. I want to thank them for getting me out of there.”
The neighbour told how she then ran to knock on the doors of her neighbours, warning them to get out of the building.
All residents then had to stand outside in the car park for around 90 minutes as the fire crew tackled the blaze.
Some elderly residents said they had been watching television that evening when they got a knock to say they had to get out of the area.
Brian Davies, a resident of the area for almost 40 years, said things could have been so much worse.
“If we had been in our beds I don’t know what would have happened,” he said. “It’s just desperate altogether. It makes you wary of something like that happening again.”
Upper Bann MP David Simpson condemned the arson.
“There is extensive damage to the property and the occupants of the entire block are fortunate to have escaped unharmed. This is a very serious incident and could have ended in tragedy. I commend the work of the police and fire authority for their efforts and I urge the local community to come forward with any information that they may have to the PSNI.”
Local councillor Junior McCrum praised the young men who raised the alarm. “I spoke to some residents and they are greatly indebted to those who raised the alarm. I think they need to be commended for their actions. It is unthinkable as to what would have happened otherwise.”
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