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Girl (13) charged over fire at newspaper office

A 13-year-old girl has been charged over an alleged arson attack on the offices of a weekly newspaper in Northern Ireland.

The girl was expected to appear in court in Bangor today (Wednesday), charged with criminal damage with intent to endanger life by fire at the Down Democrat, Downpatrick.

Three members of staff, who have not been named, escaped with relatively minor injuries after jumping from an upstairs window. Two were treated for smoke inhalation and the third for a broken leg.

The blaze broke out shortly before midnight on Monday and delayed production of the paper but staff were confident that it would be published yesterday (Tuesday) as planned.

A motorist who helped the three workers escape from the blazing building has come forward in response to police appeals through the media.

A fire service official told the Belfast Telegraph that the blaze started in the main staircase area on the ground floor. Firefighters stopped it spreading to neighbouring premises.

“It was a very intense fire,” said assistant divisional officer Gerry Tonan. “It is an old timber-floored building and if it had taken hold, it would have spread to the whole block very easily.”

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