Emergency services deal with gas explosion at Armagh house

image captionTwo homes on Ardmore avenue have been extensively damaged by fire

A number of families in Armagh have lost their homes after four properties were seriously damaged in a major fire believed to have been caused by gas cylinders.

Fire crews from different areas of Northern Ireland spent several hours on Sunday trying to bring the blaze under control.

The incident happened in Ardmore Avenue in Armagh city.

No injuries were reported by either the police or firefighters.

image copyrightArmagh I

However, residents were advised to keep their windows closed.

Northern Ireland Fire Service (NIFRS) Station Commander Terry McCann said a "very serious fire had already developed" before they were called to the scene on Sunday afternoon.

He said: "There were two properties involved, also four vans in the driveway of one property and a caravan.

"All those vehicles were involved in the fire as well."

image captionTwo further homes were also damaged by smoke and water from fire fighting

He added: "There's been two homes damaged directly by fire and two further homes damaged by smoke and water from firefighting.

"Thankfully all persons had been removed from the vehicles and from the property as well.

"There was no explosion, there were some gas cylinders involved, which might have let off small bangs as the fire developed, but there was no explosion as such."

image caption35 firefighters battled to get the blazes under control using specialist equipment from Lisburn, Pomeroy and Belfast

More than 30 firefighters were sent to the scene and specialist equipment was brought in from Lisburn, Pomeroy and Belfast.

DUP MLA William Irwin said it was "frightening footage to see in a built-up area," referring to a video circulating online of the fire.

He said "appreciation and respect must go to the fire service for the swift response to this major incident".