‘Deliberate’ fire at Derry fuel business: ‘It could have been catastrophic’

The burnt out coal lorry.
The burnt out coal lorry.

A family-run fuel business in Derry has said their whole livelihood could have been destroyed after an overnight attack.

Gillen Fuels on Heather Road had a coal lorry burnt out and a JCB front loader damaged in the attack.

If that fire had not been contained in time our whole livelihood would have been up in flames, not to mention the businesses on either side of us

Gillen Fuels

The NI Fire & Rescue Service say they are treating the fire as deliberate.

A spokesperson for the company, which has been in business for more than 60 years, said “it could have been catastrophic”.

“They could have killed themselves,” said the spokesperson.

In a statement on their Facebook page, the company branded the attack “disgusting”.

“It is sad that you can’t lock the gates of your business after a hard days work and for your property to be left alone,” they said.

“We are a small family run business who work hard to provide a good service to the people of the town, a business that has been operating many years and does so much for local charities and people.

“It is disgusting that people can enter our property and vandalise our lorries and then set it on fire.

“This is a fuel yard filled with kerosene, gas oil and bottled gas.

“The lorry was parked next to numerous oil lorries with kerosene on board and if that fire had not been contained in time our whole livelihood would have been up in flames, not to mention the businesses on either side of us.

“Someone could have been seriously hurt but, thankfully no one WAS hurt and we would like to thank the Fire Service acted so quickly.

“To those who entered our property and done this, CCTV will be checked and police are on the matter.”

NIFRS Group Commander, Fergal Leonard said two appliances from Northland Road attended the fire within minutes of receiving the call, using breathing apparatus and water to extinguish the blaze.

Group Commander Leonard said the lorry was “well alight” when they arrived. He said there was “no doubt the quick actions of crew prevented the fire from spreading”.

Police said at around 10.30pm police received a report of a lorry on fire at the location.

“Substantial damage was caused to the DAF lorry as a result. Damage was also caused to a JCB front loader during the incident,” said a PSNi spokesperson. “Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation to contact officers in Strand Road on 101 quoting reference number 1445 of 21/10/16. Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”