14 January 2006

Blaze destroys Belfast store

Belfast Telegraph

PSNI in fire probe

By Lisa Smyth
14 January 2006

A suspicious fire which destroyed an east Belfast shop was today being investigated by police.

Emergency services were alerted to the blaze at The Bargain Store on the Woodstock Road at about 5.15am.

There was also a fire in west Belfast overnight, which led to nine elderly nuns being evacuated at Our Lady's Nursing home on the Ard-Na-Va Road, off the Falls Road.

In the east Belfast blaze, firefighters arrived at the scene to find a well established fire in the three-storey shop premises.

At the scene the owner of the shop was too distraught to speak and stood sobbing as the fire was tackled.

Fire Service divisional officer Ken Leatham confirmed the blaze is being treated as suspicious.

"It is very early to say for definite but that is what we believe at the moment and we have asked the PSNI to help investigate," he said.

"When we got here we found extensive fire to the front and rear of the premises.

"The difficulty with fighting the fire at the front of the shop was that it was protected by roller shutters so we had to call a specialist appliance from our central station for appropriate cutting equipment to gain access to the shop."

The west Belfast blaze was described by firefighters as small, but one that could have been serious. Four appliances took 90 minutes to bring it under control.

The fire, which is under investigation, began in a shed.

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