Police injured in Co Antrim arson rescue

Published Thursday, 20 February 2014
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Three police officers and a number of residents of a block of flats in Antrim were treated for smoke inhalation following an arson attack in the early hours of Thursday morning.

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During the incident a police vehicle was also attacked by youths throwing stones, the PSNI said.

The fire broke out in the Tiger Court area of the town just before 1.30am.

A window of the property was smashed and police believe the fire was started deliberately.

The fire service attended to the scene and put out the blaze.

Two police officers were taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation after they helped those residents inside the building escape. A third officer was treated at the scene for his injuries.

A number of residents also had to attend hospital for their injuries and police said their injuries were not life-threatening.

Two males were witnessed fleeing from the scene and one man was later caught by police.

The police are there to serve the whole community, they should not be attacked while they are carrying out their duties.

Councillor Neil Kelly

Antrim councillor Neil Kelly said lives could have been lost in the fire.

He said: "There is no justification for this attack.

"I would like to praise the efforts of the police officers who entered the building to bring people to safety and who were treated for smoke inhalation.

"I hope all those injured in this fire will be able to make a full recovery.

"I am also concerned by the reports that youths attacked police vehicles with stones during this rescue operation.

"I would urge anybody with any information about this arson attack to contact the police," said the Alliance representative.

MLA Trevor Clarke, added: "This is extremely worrying, this was a block of flats and there could have been multiple deaths.

"Everyone is very lucky to be alive and police officers, who helped residents out of the building, are being treated in hospital for smoke inhalation and I would wish them a speedy recovery.

"What I would say to the community is that there will be people who are aware of why this happened and who is responsible and they should pass that information on to police," said the DUP member.

Two men, aged 18 and 22 were arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life in the early hours of Thursday.

They were later released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Police have appealed for anyone who may have information in connection with the incident to contact investigating officers.

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