A former Coleraine pub now owned by the Republic’s toxic bank has been destroyed in a late-night weekend blaze.
Firefighters were called to the Nama-owned Squires Wine Bar site at Park Street just before midnight on Saturday.
Forty firefighters and eight appliances from as far away as Ballycastle and Londonderry were involved in tackling the blaze, which destroyed the main part of the derelict building.
Homes close by had to be evacuated with some residents taking shelter in Coleraine Town Hall.
It took around four hours to put out the blaze. Police say it is not yet clear if the fire was started deliberately. The former pub is owned by Nama, which was set up to buy and manage mainly bad property loans held by Dublin-based financial institutions.
Its aim is to remove bad or impaired assets from the banks’ balance sheets, allowing them to rebuild their financial strength.
Geoff White, group commander with the Fire Service, said it had been a sizeable blaze.
He said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
Alliance councillor, Yvonne Boyle, said: “This fire took place very near residential areas in the town centre. It must have been very frightening for those households evacuated overnight and I’m hope that everyone have been able to safely return to their homes.
“I commend the bravery of the considerable number of fightfighters who brought the fire at this vacant pub under control.
“I am also concerned that empty properties owned by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) which may be vulnerable to vandalism are properly secured.”