The Fire Service are treating a Monday afternoon blaze at a derelict apartment complex on Ross Street as deliberate.

Four fire appliances including an aerial appliance attended the scene shortly after 2.15pm today. 

Community reps had appealed for people to avoid the area and Ross Street was cordoned off as firefighters tackled the blaze. The incident was dealt with by 4.08pm and the cause of the fire is believed to have been deliberate ignition.

It is the second time the flats, which are earmarked for demolition, have been set alight in recent months. In June, firefighters fought for over two hours to contain a blaze at the complex.

The Ross Street area is currently subject to redevelopment under the Department for Communities’ Building Successful Communities (BSC) initiative, with Radius Housing  unveiling plans for new social homes in the area. 

However, with buildings lying empty, the Ross Street area has become a hotspot for antisocial behaviour and fly-tipping. 

Speaking following Monday's blaze, local Community Safety Officer, Lisa Lynn, said: "We had encouraged people to avoid the area because kids were getting out of school and the smoke was quite heavy," she said.

"We're not sure of the extent of the damage, but we were there about five minutes after it was lit and we heard the structure collapsing.

"The Housing Executive have given us an assurance that they'll be on site by mid-October to knock it down anyway."

She added: "If it is going to pose a risk to people walking past then it will need to be cordoned off, but we'll not know until the Fire Service tell us the extent of the damage."

In a statement issued today, the Housing Executive condemned vandals who set the fire. “We condemn ongoing vandalism at this site, which is fully secured and attended by our staff on a daily basis," said a spokesperson. "This complex has been passed for demolition and we will soon be appointing a contractor to complete this work. In the meantime, we appeal to local people to stay away from the site.”