Northern Ireland

Fire ongoing on Ormeau Road

Fire Image copyright Declan Boyle
Image caption The road between University Avenue and Agincourt Avenue is closed

The fire service has been called to deal with an ongoing blaze in south Belfast.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has sent at least two fire appliances to an old builders' yard on the Ormeau Road.

The PSNI tweeted: "Due to an ongoing incident, the Ormeau Road, Belfast, is currently closed between University Avenue and Agincourt Avenue. Allow extra time for your journey."

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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Media captionThe fire is on the site of an old builders' yard on the Ormeau Road

NIFRS group commander William Johnston told BBC News NI that the emergency services were alerted to a fire at approx 19:30 BST on Sunday.

Fire crews from central Belfast, Springfield and Carryduff attended the scene.

Mr Johnston said that the crews had to fight the fire externally because the roof and building collapsed.

"It's been brought under control. Crews are still there but it's being scaled down," he said.

"The owners are at the scene. They're working with police to make it safe."

Deliberate fire

Mr Johnston said that the NIFRS believe the fire was deliberate because of reports that a group of young people were seen leaving the site shortly before emergency services were called.

The fire service deployed a water jet from a high platform to dowse the fire from above.

Independent councillor Declan Boyle was at the scene of the fire and described seeing "a big plume of smoke" over the Ormeau Road.

Image caption Independent councillor Declan Boyle

"There are fire appliances and a number of police cars," he said.

"One of them is up high pumping water."

Image caption The fire service deployed a water jet from a high platform to dowse the fire

A building with history

The old builders yard was formally the site of H and J Martin, one of Northern Ireland's oldest construction companies. The firm was involved in the building of Belfast City Hall and many of the houses in the Holyland in south Belfast.

The red brick building and yard was not currently in use.

Amongst the large crowd of onlookers was local man Jimmy Milligan who served his time as a joiner in the building.

He said it was sad to see an historic part of Belfast going up in smoke.