Residents’ chilling prediction before fire

Residents from Gartan Square had spoken just days ago about the problems they are facing.
Residents from Gartan Square had spoken just days ago about the problems they are facing.

Residents evacuated from their homes overnight following an arson attack had forewarned that such an attack would occur if nothing was done.

The residents of Gartan Square made the chilling prediction that lives would be put at risk while speaking to the Journal last week.

The scene of the fire last night.

The scene of the fire last night.

Less than a week later, families, some of them with young children, had to be evacuated after a bin storage area was set alight and spread to a nearby flat.

Just days ago, the residents said they had had enough of youths using solvents, drinking and setting fires next to their homes.

They had warned that up to 40 youths were regularly congregating in the area up to seven nights a week.

Residents, including elderly people and those with young families, told the ‘Journal’ that the teenagers sit on their verandas drinking and regularly break into a bin shed, empty the bins out, then sit on them and take solvents.

Our real fear is the bins. Five of them have been set on fire and we are afraid that, with the gas fires there could be a fatality.

Residents speaking last week

“As soon as it gets dark, these young people appear and we’re under siege,” one resident told the ‘Journal.’

“Our real fear is the bins. Five of them have been set on fire and we are afraid that, with the gas fires there could be a fatality.

“Young people congregate in the bin sheds and get ‘off their face’ on solvents and drink. It’s party central. They’re not from this area. It’s not unusual for us to have to step over vomit to get out of our houses.

“The bin shed has been locked and even welded shut but they keep breaking in. There are young families with babies here and we have to keep our doors locked because we are so afraid. The noise level is unbelievable, we can’t even listen to our televisions.

Rubbish that was thrown across the bin shed previously.

Rubbish that was thrown across the bin shed previously.

“When there was a wake on downstairs we went out and asked them to keep the noise down. They threatened to burn us out of our homes. One woman was so afraid she taped her letterbox shut.”

Another homeowner had said last week that residents should not have to put up with this.

“Where do their parents think their children are when they are getting off their faces on alcohol? Our wains can’t get to sleep at night because of the roaring and shouting.”

Sinn Fein Colr Colly Kelly a multi-agency meeting was now being convened to look at tackling the problems facing residents.

The Fire Brigade meanwhile today confirmed that the latest attack on Thursday evening was deliberate.