The arson attack at the former Immaculate Conception College building has been branded “mindless vandalism” which caused “disruption and danger”, SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly has said.
Due to potential hazard from asbestos catching fire, an aerial appliance had to be used to protect Fire & Rescue personnel.
Colr. Reilly said: “This mindless vandalism has put pressure on the emergency services and all credit must go to the fire-fighters who put themselves in harm’s way to extinguish this fire.
“They had to talk to local residents at 5am this morning telling people to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed.
“Thankfully at that time in the morning this would have been the case for most people as they would have been in their beds.”
A Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service meanwhile confirmed this morning: “Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service received a call at 4.35am to a report of a fire at derelict school on the Trench Road, Gobnascale area of Foyle this morning.
“Two Fire Appliances from Crescent Link Fire Station, one Fire Appliance along with an Aerial Appliance from Northland Fire Station and 1one Fire Appliance from Limavady Fire Station attended the incident.
“Firefighters dealt with a well-developed fire in the gym area of the derelict school and prevented it from spreading to other parts of the building.”
He added: “Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service finished at the scene at 8.48am and the fire is being treated as deliberate.”
Colr. Reilly said he now plans to talk to Planning Service regarding the current application for social housing, a playpark and other community facilities on the site of the former College.
“I will be urging them to expedite this application and reach a conclusion on that as soon as possible, so we can bring this site back into use and unlock its potential,” Colr. Reilly said.