CELEBRITY Big Brother winner Paddy Doherty has praised fire crews after a blaze threatened the safety of his community.
An arson attack on abandoned buildings on wasteland led to a fire just metres behind the Riverside caravan park in Queensferry where the traveller lives.
Fire crews were called to prevent the fire from spreading to the site which is home to more than twenty families at 7.15pm on Saturday night.
Fire crews battled the fire for two hours and afterwards confirmed it had been started deliberately.
Mr Doherty, who won legions of fans in 2011 when he appeared in and eventually won Celebrity Big Brother, said he was just thankful no one had been injured.
“Thank God no children were hurt,” he said. “We feel lucky as the children are okay.”
“It was mainly the tyres,” he said, “but we knew there were gas canisters there and we were afraid they’d go up.”
Mr Docherty’s home is at the far end of the site which runs alongside a narrow strip of pasture.
A small ridge is all that separates the site and in particular Mr Doherty’s home from where the blaze took place.
One derelict shed was completely destroyed by the blaze and another empty building was damaged.
An old lorry was also burned out, as well as a small area of the caravan site’s pasture land where Mr Doherty said horses grazed in the winter.
The former bare-knuckle boxer who came to prominence in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding said whoever started the fire seemed to have got onto the land from a hole in the fence off industrial land beyond.
He said when the fire was discovered, residents had pulled together passing buckets of water to throw onto the flames.
“They all thought my chalet was going to get it,” he said. “Everyone was out helping.
We’re all one family. We’ve got English, Welsh and Irish but we’re all one family. A traveller is a traveller.”
But he said there was no way they could control the fire and was full of praise for the firefighters, describing them as “the nicest men you’ve ever seen”.
“They even wanted to clean up after they’d finished,” he said.
A spokesman for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said three crews were in attendance – two from Deeside and one from Buckley – and two hose reels were used to extinguish the blaze. They said the fire had been started deliberately.