Northern Ireland

Crumlin fire: Chinese restaurant destroyed in arson attack

The restaurant was considerably damaged Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The premises was considerably damaged in the suspected arson

A Chinese restaurant in County Antrim has been destroyed in an arson attack.

The police said a car was set on fire in Main Street, Crumlin, between 03:20 BST and 03:40 BST on Saturday and the blaze spread to the takeaway.

Residents from flats above the takeaway escaped without injury. Other premises on the street have been damaged.

The police said, at this stage, they were not treating the incident as a hate crime.

SDLP councillor Thomas Burns said it was unclear what had actually happened but it looked like the car had been rammed against the shutter of the restaurant.

"This is an absolute disgrace," he said.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Residents from flats above the restaurant escaped without injury

"Whether this vehicle has been moved or burnt and has been rammed against the shutters of this takeaway, for the people living upstairs, it could have been an absolute disaster.

Image caption The police said they were not treating the arson attack as a hate crime

"If the blaze had got going, if the people had not got out, the smoke could have killed them, never mind the fire.

"I'm horrified that these Chinese people have been targeted. Why it was them, is a question that is being asked."

Councillor Mervyn Rea of the Ulster Unionist Party said: "That vehicle could have exploded, it could have caused damage where it was parked, it could have caused injury to anyone on the street and, equally so, when it propelled into the shop and set the shop ablaze.

"It could have caused a nasty accident when it was veering across the street."

Anne-Marie Logue, Sinn Féin councillor, said people in the area were "aghast as to why this has happened".

"We are very annoyed for the business involved as well and the family are devastated," she said.

Image caption There has been speculation as to how the car ended up at the restaurant

"It's obviously put them out of business for quite a few weeks.

"Opportunists decided to break into the car. The car was put on fire and unfortunately it was directed towards this shop. I'm just glad that nobody has been hurt."

She said £700,000 had recently been invested to upgrade Crumlin Main Street.

The police are treating the incident as a suspected arson attack and have appealed for information.