Homeless centre is destroyed in blaze

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HOMELESS people in west Belfast have been left devastated after a drop-in centre was destroyed during an overnight fire.

The Fire Service found a well-developed blaze at the Welcome Organisation’s building in St Peter’s Square around 3.30am yesterday.

Sandra Moore, who runs the centre, said the damage has hit some of Belfast’s most vulnerable people.

“We will not be able to use the centre again, such is the level of damage that has been done,” she said.

“Half of the building has suffered and the roof is gone in one half of the building. It’s literally gutted.”

And Ms Moore added: “It’s a shell and the other end of it is very badly smoke and scorch damaged.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police are currently investigating and would appeal to anyone who may be able to help with their inquiries to contact them on 0845 600 8000.

“Alternatively information can be passed anonymously via the independent Crimestoppers number on 0800 555 111.”

SDLP Lower Falls councillor Colin Keenan told of his shock at the destruction of the centre.

“The Welcome Organisation provide a fantastic service for the homeless and it was genuinely upsetting when I visited the centre this morning and saw the destruction that had been wrought,” said Mr Keenan.

“I also met with some of those affected by the fire, including homeless people who had turned up for shelter and support and were met with a burned out building.”