A Glenarm Road home owner who awoke to find a stolen fire engine had crashed into his house says it was “like being in a disaster movie.”
Artist John Lashford and his wife Una were upstairs asleep on Saturday morning (March 5) when the 12-tonne vehicle collided with several cars in their street before mounting the pavement and becoming embedded in the doorway of their Victorian terraced house.
John told the Times that the couple had heard a “series of loud bangs” which they thought were explosions before the vehicle careered into their home.
“I opened the bedroom window and did a double take as I saw the fire engine in my garden,” John recalled.
“The bangs had been the fire engine hitting cars, then it must have taken off in the air and landed in my garden.
“The full impact was taken by my front door, which disappeared into the through wall, my garden was totally destroyed and our side wall has disappeared. Everyone was staring in disbelief at the carnage. It looks like a bomb had hit it.”
John was subsequently rushed to hospital after suffering an asthma attack due to the cold weather on Saturday morning. Now back home, he says he is “still in shock” over what happened.
“It was so surreal, it was like a scene from a disaster movie,” he continued.
“My car sustained a two-foot hole in the bonnet as well. If anyone had been walking up that street they would have been killed.”
Despite the damage, the couple have chosen to remain in their home.
“We had spent years restoring the house to its original Victorian appearance. It was a labour of love and I’m worried that it will be impossible to restore it to how it was,” John said.
“Access to our house is terrible, our front door is boarded up so we have to go around the back, which is muddy, and we can’t get papers or post.
“Had this house been made of brick or timber-framed the fire engine would have crashed through, but the Victorian stone walls are 18 inches thick, which protected it to an extent.
“Our friends and neighbours have been terrific and I would also like to thank the Ambulance Service, PSNI, DRD, Fire Service and NIE for their help.”
Neighbouring author Tom Jobling, whose car was written off after the fire engine collided with it, said he was “angry” at the incident.
“That car was my pride and joy. I had spent a lot of money on it,” he told the Times.
“I am now wrangling with insurance rather than creative writing. This has attracted lots of publicity for the town for all the wrong reasons.”