Northern Ireland

Larne: Men aged 66 and 19 arrested over stolen fire engine

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Media captionTwo men are arrested after a fire engine is stolen in Larne, County Antrim, and crashes, damaging houses and cars.

Two men aged 66 and 19 are being questioned by police about the theft of a fire engine in County Antrim.

It was driven out of Larne fire station and crashed at Glenarm Road in the town damaging houses and cars.

One of those arrested was taken to hospital following the crash that happened shortly after 04:00 GMT.

Police said they received several reports of a fire engine having crashed into a number of cars and gardens.

Image caption The engine crashed into the front garden of a terraced house

They said two men left the scene of the crash. One of them was later taken to hospital for treatment to his injuries and has since been released.

Both men are in police custody.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption John Lashford could not believe what he saw

The fire engine ended up in the front garden of John Lashford's home. He described what happened early on Saturday morning.

"There was a long continuous crash, crash, bang, bang, bang, culminating in a final big bang at the end," he said.

"I jumped immediately out of bed, looked out the bedroom window and looked down. I could not believe my eyes. There was a fire engine in my front garden.

"Then, I looked at the absolute carnage of the cars littered down the road that had been smashed."

Ita Dungan, BBC Newsline

Residents of the Victorian Street have described the scene they awoke to this morning as "surreal".

There was a car on its roof, five others damaged and strewn across the road and a fire appliance lying abandoned in a garden parallel to the downstairs window of the last house on the street.

The fire engine had been stolen from the station 500 metres away at about 4am. Two people have now been arrested.

Several residents have been told not to return to their homes due to the risk of structural damage.

Many others on the street have spent the morning on the phone hoping their insurance companies will cover the damage.

The local fire chief, Kevin O'Neill, said the Larne station was also damaged during the break in.

"It is an inconvenience in that we have had to put in emergency arrangements, but we are in a position where we can deal with things," he said.

"I would urge anyone who has any information to report it to the police."

Image caption A fire crew at the scene of the crash

East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons said those who took the fire engine should understand the consequences of their action.

"They caused a lot of damage by what they have done," he said.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Several cars and houses were damaged

"They have been putting lives at risk by their behaviour. So we can only hope that they will understand what they have done has been very selfish and very dangerous indeed."

Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan said: "We are very lucky no-one was killed or seriously injured after the fire engine crashed into parked cars and buildings.

Image caption Preparations were being made to remove the fire engine on Saturday afternoon

"Not only was the danger in the appliance being driven by inexperienced drivers, but it also removed this appliance from being on call."

Image caption The fire engine is towed away from Glenarm Road

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