‘Tragedy narrowly avoided’

The family car which was destroyed by fire on Friel Close on Monday night. (3003lm77)
The family car which was destroyed by fire on Friel Close on Monday night. (3003lm77)

A Ballymagroarty family have spoken of their “shock, horror and distress” after their family car was destroyed by fire right in front of their house. One local councillor warned the fire on Friel Close could have ended in tragedy as it was parked close to a mains supply unit.

The fire was so intense that it cracked windows, melted gutting on two houses and caused smoke damage, as well as melting parts of the bodywork of the car.

The family, who did not wish to be identified, spoke to the Derry Journal after their vehicle was destroyed in the mystery blaze on Monday night. They explained how they were in bed when the fire broke out. The Peugeot 407 was parked outside their home at 2.30am when the fire started. The family were wakened by their pet dog barking at the alarm. They then escaped via the rear of the building. “The whole thing is mad. There is nothing left of the car,” said the owner. “Even the body work has melted. I have to say thank you to all the emergency crews who arrived to help us, we are very grateful to all the blue light services.”

The family said the cause of the fire had not, as yet, been determined. “The Fire Service said that as there was basically nothing left of the car it is hard to tell if it is an electrical fault or if the fire was the work of an arsonist.” Sinn Féin Northlands Councillor Mickey Cooper however blamed arsonists.

Councillor Cooper said: “This was a very frightening experience for local residents. The heat from the fire was so intense that it cracked the windows in a number of houses, caused damage to door frames and melted guttering. Had the petrol tank in the car exploded this could have been much worse. There is no justification for these arson attacks and sooner or later we will be looking at a tragedy due to these mindless actions.

“No one has the right to destroy other people’s property and the loss of this car will inflict untold hardship on another working class family. I would appeal to anyone with information on this incident to contact the police.”