A mix-up in communication at a Tyrone fire station on Tuesday night resulted in a three-storey building in the Moy being destroyed.
New firefighter recruit, 18-year old Declan McClurg, was left in charge of the fire station in Urney on what was normally the quietest night of the week, but received a call-out to the Moy just minutes after his colleagues departed, leaving on his own to man the night shift.
Aye, it was just a wee misunderstanding, that’s all”, said McClurg philosophically, following the fire which caused an estimated £3m of damage. “Could happen to anybody. When the boys were headin’ off home they were shouting ‘keep ‘er lit’ on the way out, so when just ten minutes later I got the 999 call, I thought they meant to go along and keep an eye on the blaze, but not to do anything, or maybe throw on a few sticks. Some handlin’”.
The premises, McGlone Stores in King Street in the Moy, was completely destroyed, leaving the owner Cormac McGlone furious. “I turned up in a panic expecting to see Tyrone’s finest with the hoses out. What did I see but that eejit sitting with a big bag of Co-op marshmallows, toasting them on a stick. Fecker. Didn’t even offer me one”.
McClurg however was quick to offer up a defence. “How was I to know “keep ‘er lit”, is some fancy expression round the Moy? I’m from Clonoe. People should say what they mean. And anyway, them marshmallows was just a wee snack. I even missed my tea break because I was out watching the fire. Jays, you should have seen that thing go up. It was like the end of a James Bond movie. Deadly”.
McClurg went on to offer his professional advice having completed three days on the job before getting sacked. “You have to be on your guard with fire, see. I dedicated my life to protecting property. Well, for three days anyway. Fire can catch you unawares. Just a few months back my brother-in-law’s bookies shop went on fire. Total write-off so it was. He must have been messin’ about at the time acting the lig, because he said it was an arsin’ claim. No idea how the fire started though. It’s a mystery”.
The fire service refused to comment, but said they had doubts from the start when they spotted McClurg in the station trying to slide up the fireman’s pole.
Government officials are said to be on high alert after a shadowy phone-call from a group calling themselves the West Tyrone Independent Disability Living Allowance (IDLA) announced they will resist a tightening on fraudulent payouts by whatever means necessary.
The news that benefits in some cases are to be reassessed came after a Strabane man, who was claiming incapacity benefit for a sore back, was caught moonlighting as a bare-knuckle cage boxer in the lucrative underground fighting ring in Clady. Jon McElhinna defended his position:
“I never said I was incapacitated at night. The cold air seems to work wonders on the muscles. I’m only incapacitated during the day and I’m not giving up my £300 a week. No siree.”
IDLA have also sworn to stand up for any benefit cuts, including the case against Donemana’s Mary McClean who had failed to declare her life-long partner and executive banker, Cyron, as a resident. Hurson defended her position by declaring:
“No he doesn’t live here. Yes, he arrives at 7am for breakfast and yes I make him his lunch-time salad. And yes, he does kiss me at the door as he leaves and yes returns at 6pm for a bit of lunch and tells me about his day before putting the children to bed and yes falling asleep on the TV whilst watching cooking programmes. But he doesn’t live here. Anyway, I’m bisexual.”
The IDLA say they’ll let the tyres down on anyone who looks like someone from Belfast carrying a clipboard walking up driveways.
Meanwhile Barry McElduff has endorsed a Christmas single to be released by the balaclava-ed IDLA called ‘Keep er Lit’, a direct attack on the proposed cuts being made to households who earn over £100’000 per annum and who claim for heating allowance.