‘Deliberate’ fire leads to residents being evacuated and week-long disruption at GP Surgery
Police are investigating after a fire was reported in an outbuilding of a home on Kinhilt Street, Ballymena, which led to a number of residents being evacuated in the early hours of the morning.
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service crews were tasked to the scene of the blaze just before 5am on Sunday 30 October, which police have confirmed was started deliberately.
No injuries were reported but the fire caused extensive damage to external communication network cabling, and led to a week of major disruption at a local GP Surgery, located in an adjacent property.
Staff arrived to the practice on Monday morning to begin another normal busy week of helping patients and treating the sick, but were dismayed to discover that computers were unable to connect to the internet or network services, leaving the practice unable to access Clinical software and unable to fully retrieve medical records. This inevitably caused delays to issuing prescriptions and accessing test results.
The dedicated staff at The Gables practice have worked tirelessly throughout the week to continue to help patients as much as possible, while engineers visited to attempt to repair the damage to the network.
This afternoon, Friday 3 November, lead GP at the practice, Dr Stephen Russell, told Love Ballymena:
"Connections in The Gables are still down and not likely to be restored until at least Monday.
"We now have access to doing prescriptions from another local surgery - we are extremely grateful for their help.
"Telephones may be slow but we are getting calls and will try and continue to provide a service as best as we can.
"Thanks to all our patients for their patience and understanding."
Police in Ballymena have appealed for information and witnesses in relation to the arson incident.
Sergeant Hewat said:
“Police received a report of a fire at an outbuilding in the area shortly before 4.55am on Sunday 30th October.
“Our colleagues from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene and managed to extinguish the blaze, which at this stage is being treated as deliberate ignition.
“A number of houses in the area were also evacuated.
“Residents were later allowed to return to their homes, and thankfully, there were no reports of any injuries.
“Our enquiries are continuing, and we are appealing to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area at the time, or who may have any information which could assist, to contact us on 101, quoting reference number 502 of 30/10/22.”
Alternatively information can also be provided by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.