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Saturday 3 December 2016

Trail of destruction as fire engine ploughs into cars

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

Thoughtless vandalism: The fire engine came to a stop in a front garden of a row of houses on Glenarm Road, Larne Photo: David Young/PA Wire
Thoughtless vandalism: The fire engine came to a stop in a front garden of a row of houses on Glenarm Road, Larne Photo: David Young/PA Wire
Mayhem: Luckily no member of the public was injured Photo: David Young/PA Wire

A stolen fire engine left a trail of destruction as it bulldozed through a wall and parked cars after being stolen from a nearby station.

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The thieves ploughed into at least eight vehicles, following the theft in the early hours of Saturday morning in the coastal town of Larne, Co Antrim.

During the rampage, one car was flipped over onto its roof, leaving broken glass and other debris strewn all over the pavement and road.

The engine, with lights flashing, then careered off the road and smashed through a concrete wall, before coming to a stop in the front garden of a row of houses on Glenarm Road.

Luckily, no member of the public was injured.

The engine was later abandoned, but two men, aged 66 and 19, were arrested some time later.

A fire engine that was stolen from a station and driven into nearby cars and houses in Glenarm Road, Larne, Co Antrim. David Young/PA Wire
A fire engine that was stolen from a station and driven into nearby cars and houses in Glenarm Road, Larne, Co Antrim. David Young/PA Wire
A fire engine that was stolen from a station and driven into nearby cars and houses in Glenarm Road, Larne, Co Antrim. David Young/PA Wire
A fire engine that was stolen from a station and driven into nearby cars and houses in Glenarm Road, Larne, Co Antrim. David Young/PA Wire
A fire engine that was stolen from a station and driven into nearby cars and houses in Glenarm Road, Larne, Co Antrim. David Young/PA Wire

One of the suspects received hospital treatment for minor injuries, but was discharged a short time later.

Both suspects were still being questioned last night by the PSNI in connection with the incident.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue and Service (NIFRS) said the men broke into Larne station at approximately 4.30am.

"Subsequently, this fire engine was driven into a number of cars and houses in the Larne area," said Group Commander Kevin O'Neill.

He said the fire station was damaged in the break-in and the NIFRS was working to ensure that services were maintained in Larne.

DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said that the theft of a fire engine was an appalling act that put lives at risk.

"Breaking into a fire station and stealing a fire engine shows a clear disregard for the people of Larne and those who serve in the fire service," he said.

"But to drive it around the town and create mayhem along the way demonstrates just how low some people are prepared to stoop.

"I am thankful that no one was hurt or killed. However, this was an extremely stupid and dangerous thing to do.

"The scene looks like something out of an action film and the people responsible have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

"They need to understand the consequences and seriousness of their actions and I hope that the police ensure that happens."

Dale Ashford, also from the NIFRS, said someone could have been seriously hurt in the incident.

"It's absolute devastation," he said."The fire engine is seriously damaged and that's going to have an effect on the community - but we still have crews on duty protecting the people of Larne today.

"This could have been a very different situation, there could have been absolute carnage - but thankfully there were very few, if any, injuries."

Thomas Jobling, who lives on the Glenarm Road, was asleep in bed when he heard a massive crash around 4.30am.

Mr Jobling, whose own car was badly damaged, said he initially thought it was an explosion.

"I was fast asleep in bed and then there was this horrendous bang and flashing lights - we just didn't know what was happening," he said.

"We thought it was possibly an explosion. We rushed downstairs and immediately saw the carnage of a line of cars - we think it was probably eight cars - one sitting on its roof. My own car was sideswiped as well.

"The next thing we saw was the fire engine with the lights going and pulsing and realised it was tight up against another couple of buildings in the terrace.

"We were thinking again that there was obviously a reason for it, but then we realised that the fire engine had got here far too quickly.

"Then we started to calculate what had happened. The fire engine was stolen, we understand, and driven at great speed coming up here on the coast road. It has veered off and wiped out eight cars."

Sunday Independent

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