Page last updated at 05:02 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 06:02 UK

Town fires cost taxpayer 500k

Fire at the Gorteen House Hotel
The derelict Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady was set on fire in February

Malicious fires in Limavady have cost the taxpayer almost 500,000 in the last 18 months, according to figures from the Fire and Rescue Service.

The details were provided in a written answer to the town's deputy mayor, George Robinson.

He said it was a "staggering" figure, and called on the community to help stop "this waste of public money through pure vandalism".

There have been were 70 fires in the town since January this year.

Seven of the fires were in dwellings, with three in unoccupied houses, one in a school, three involving domestic oil tanks and seven in vehicles.

About 40 were described as secondary fires - with bins, gorse, or rubbish being set alight.

Mr Robinson said the figure did not include the cost to the PSNI or the ambulance service, nor the money needed to repair damage to property.

"Naturally no price can be put on the distress caused to those involved," he said.

"If anyone in Limavady thinks these malicious fires are just high spirits among some people hopefully this figure will make them think twice.

"At a time when Limavady has looking for a new fire station for the town it is a fair question to ask how far the 432,432 would have gone to provide that," he said.

The derelict Gorteen House Hotel in Limavady was set on fire in February.

In March, more than 100 people attended a meeting organised by the PSNI in Limavady to discuss the problem of arson in the town.

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