Detectives are appealing for information following two reports of arson which occurred in the Downpatrick area this morning (Tuesday 10th March).
Detective Inspector Handley said: “Shortly after 4:10am, police received a report of a seat set alight outside a flat in the Killough Walk area. The seat was placed against the front door of the property and set alight, which caused extensive damage to the door. One man in his 20s was inside the property at the time of the fire, but was not injured. Smoke damage was also reported throughout the communal area of the flats, which resulted in a man in his 90s receiving treatment for smoke inhalation.
“Shortly before 4:15am, it was reported to police that a white Seat Leon car had been set alight outside a property in the Vianstown Heights area. It is believed that a brick was thrown through the rear window of the car, which enabled the fire to start in the vehicle. Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service extinguished the fire, but the car was completely destroyed.
“Enquiries are continuing and at this stage, we are investigating a link between these two incidents of deliberate ignition.
“The damage caused to a residential premises in a built-up area is an extremely reckless act, which could have resulted in potential loss of life. The disregard of those responsible endangered the lives of the local community, with one man treated for smoke inhalation. We are very fortunate we are not dealing with a much worse situation.
“We are appealing to anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in either the Killough Walk or Vianstown Heights area of Downpatrick in the early hours of this morning. We are particularly keen to speak with anyone who noticed any suspicious vehicles located in both areas.
“Anyone with any information is asked to contact detectives on 101, quoting reference number 115 10/03/20. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”