Moat Street arson attack ‘could have killed’

A dramatic scene from the overnight arson attack at Moat Street captured by Martin 'Doherty.
A dramatic scene from the overnight arson attack at Moat Street captured by Martin 'Doherty.

The District Commander of the Fire Service in Derry says he has no doubt that someone could have been seriously injured or killed after an overnight arson attack in the city.

A number of cars caught fire during the incident which local residents have described as “terrifying.”

Speaking to the Journal this morning, District Commander Barry McDowell said as many as 20 firefighters attended the blaze at Moat Street, off Foyle Road, at 5am. He said crews had to quickly help a number of residents from their homes as fire rapidly spread from a car which it’s believed was set alight deliberately.

He said: “When crews arrived on the scene there were four cars on fire and the fire had spread to the front face of three houses, which were five or six feet from the car. Fire and heat damaged the doors and windows of the houses and crews had to tackle that as quickly as possible. We had four fire engines and 20 firefighters on the scene and two water jets were required to bring the fire under control.

“Only for the quick actions of the fire crew, who were very quick to get water onto the fire, the situation could have been much worse. One set of double glazing had melted but luckily residents had their doors and windows closed,” he said.

DC McDowell praised the quick actions of local fire crews.

He added: “I have no doubt that their quick response and professionalism saved the houses and saved the people in those houses from injury or worse. When the fire spread from one car to another, the handbrake on one of the cars had failed and caused it to roll down and into another car. The scene fire crews faced when they arrived on the street was chaotic, and luckily, we’re not dealing with a much worse situation here this morning.”

Police are currently investigaing the scene at Moat Street and the area remains sealed off.