Arson attack at former school

A FIRE at the former Strabane Academy site on the Liskey Road is being treated as arson.

Attended by three fire appliances at 6.43pm on Sunday of last week, the fire was reportedly lit in a disused portacabin.

The former school itself has also recently been attacked by vandals in recent weeks, with countless windows being smashed.

“NIFRS were called to an unoccupied portacabin on fire on Sunday evening,” a spokesperson for the fire service explained. “The fire was well alight when firefighters arrived. Firefighters wore breathing apparatus and used jets to extinguish the fire. 

“The incident was dealt with by 8.12pm and the cause of the fire is believed to be deliberate ignition.”

In the wake of the site attracting vandals at the start of the year, when another fire was reported and more windows were smashed, as well as damage caused to the inside of cabins, Strabane independent councillor, Raymond Barr emphasised the site’s potential for development.

As calls were made for the Department of Education to secure the Liskey Road campus, Cllr Barr believes the site could be transformed into a “place of recreation.” 

The Strabane Academy’s Liskey Road Campus was once the home of renowned hymn-writer, Cecil Frances Alexander who composed such classics as ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful.’

Cllr Barr said, “I recently put a motion before council asking that they try to acquire the site given the historical significance of the gate house. 

“This new incident reinforces the concerns I have about the site being protected until a decision has been made and until the future of the site has been decided.

“How many times have we seen sites like this being conveniently destroyed by vandalism rendering the building unfit for saving for the he benefit of the community?”

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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