Forensic probes in progress after blaze at Larne Times office

Point Street is sealed off on Friday as police and Fire and Rescue officers examine the scene of the fire at the rear of the Larne Times offices. INLT 16-405-PR

Point Street is sealed off on Friday as police and Fire and Rescue officers examine the scene of the fire at the rear of the Larne Times offices. INLT 16-405-PR

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POLICE have confirmed they are treating last week’s fire at the Larne Times as “suspicious”.

forensic experts are continuing to carry out tests to determine the cause of a fire at the Larne Times office which was reported last Thursday around 11.30pm.

Both the PSNI and investigators from the NI Fire and Rescue Service are investigating the blaze, which started on the first floor, to the rear of the building at Point Street at around midnight last Thursday.

The Fire and Rescue Service’s Paul Coyle said the fire was well-developed when crews arrived and took almost two hours to extinguish.

“At the moment we are not able to determine the cause. We are in fact working with colleagues from the CSI (Crime Scene Investigators) and our own fire investigators to try to establish the cause,” he added.

Despite the best efforts of fire fighters from Larne and Whitehead stations some structural, smoke and water damage was caused at the Dunluce Street property where 10 editorial, photographic, advertising and reception staff are employed.

It is not known when the office will reopen. Editorial and advertising staff have been redeployed temporarily to our sister papers, the Newtownabbey Times and Carrick Times, but otherwise it is business as usual for the Larne Times, which has been part of the borough for over a century. We will continue to bring the latest news and views, the brightest pictures and Larne’s most comprehensive sporting coverage to our growing audience in print and digital media. The newspaper will be published as normal to be in the shops on Wednesday mornings and readers can also keep up to date by visiting our website (www.larnetimes.co.uk), by following us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Calls to our number 028 2827 2303 are being redirected to Newtownabbey and all staff can be contacted at their email addresses.

We will keep readers and advertisers fully informed of developments, including plans to establish a temporary point of contact in Larne where staff will handle queries including births, marriages, deaths and memorial notices, as well as photo orders.

After more than a 100 years reporting the news, the Larne Times has found itself in the news and everyone has been overwhelmed by the sympathy and support of the community in the town and the wider borough. Political representatives, clergy, traders, community and sporting groups have contacted us, many with offers of help to ensure that the only weekly paper dedicated solely to Larne is not adversely affected by the fire.

Editor Valerie Martin said: “We have always been aware that the Larne Times is held in high regard by a large number of individuals and organisations and we know better than most that Larne people can always be relied upon to rally to the assistance of anyone faced with difficult circumstances. The generosity and encouragement of so many people in the past week has spurred all of us on to ensure that not so much as a page is lost to our loyal readers despite the setback.

“We are obviously keen to return to Dunluce Street as soon as is practical, but in the meantime our reporters, photographers and advertising staff will be busily working throughout the borough to produce copy for the paper on a weekly basis and for the website daily.”

Detectives in Larne want anyone who witnessed suspicious activity in the Point Street area on Thursday, April 12 to contact them on 0845 600 8000. Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.