Youths start fire next to Moneymore Medical Centre

Hedge beside Moneymore Medical Centre that was 'deliberately' set alight by youths
Hedge beside Moneymore Medical Centre that was 'deliberately' set alight by youths

The “deliberate” burning of a 10m stretch of hedge right next to a medical centre has led to concerns about the safety of our community as the fireworks and bonfire season approaches.

Mere weeks ago this paper reported on the public outcry surrounding the burning of Scrufts Dog Show mascot ‘Baley’ during the night in Coagh.

But this second blaze, which was started by what has been described by a fire service spokesman as “young ‘uns”, took hold “in broad daylight” beside Moneymore Medical Centre.

Police said they had received reports of “anti social behaviour in the Firhill area of Moneymore on Friday 26th September”.

“It was reported,” said a PSNI spokesman, “that a group of youths were setting off bangers and fireworks in the area of the Medical Centre at around 5pm.

“A hedge was set alight in the incident which required NIFRS personnel to extinguish [and] three male youths were seen making off from the scene.”

According to a representative from Cookstown Fire Service, they were called at 5.09pm to deal with a fire that had been “deliberately set”.

The firefighter also told the Mail: “Witnesses had seen young ones setting this fire.”

And issued the warning: “Small fires can turn into quite large fires which could lead to people being trapped on their premises - they need to be aware of what they are doing.

“They could cause serious injury,” he added.

Aside from the issues surrounding arson, Cookstown councillor Robert Kelly has also raised concerns over fire-works.

“This last week or so this has come to a head,” he told the Mail.

“They are all fascinated with fire works - somebody is going to get seriously hurt if they keep messing around.”

Cllr Kelly said he is especially worried about the safety of drivers, as young people have been seen letting off fireworks near to roads.

“Parents need to be aware of where their children are,” he added.

The PSNI’s Local Neighbourhood Inspector, Daniel Walsh said: “Fireworks are extremely dangerous. They are made from explosive material and if improperly handled have the potential to cause very serious life changing injuries.

“I would urge parents to ensure your children are aware of this danger. They have the capacity to cause serious damage to property and I would ask those responsible to think about their actions before participating in this behaviour.”

“I would also ask anyone who was in the area and who has any information which may help identify the youths involved to contact police in Cookstown on the non-emergency number 101.”