Two men, aged 19 and 66, are being questioned by police after a fire engine was stolen and later crashed into cars and houses in Northern Ireland. The vehicle was stolen from a station in Larne, Co Antrim at 4am on Saturday (5 March) .

Police said they received several reports of a fire engine having crashed into a number of cars and gardens. After causing carnage on the quiet street, the fire engine ended up in the front garden of John Lashford's home. "There was a long continuous crash, crash, bang, bang, bang, culminating in a final big bang at the end," he said. "I jumped immediately out of bed, looked out the bedroom window and looked down. I could not believe my eyes. There was a fire engine in my front garden. Then, I looked at the absolute carnage of the cars littered down the road that had been smashed."

The suspects fled the scene of the crash. One of them was later taken to hospital for treatment for his injuries and has since been released.

Local fire chief, Kevin O'Neill, said the Larne station was also damaged during the break in. "It is an inconvenience in that we have had to put in emergency arrangements, but we are in a position where we can deal with things," he said. "I would urge anyone who has any information to report it to the police."

East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons said those who took the fire engine should understand the consequences of their action. "They caused a lot of damage by what they have done," he said. "They have been putting lives at risk by their behaviour. So we can only hope that they will understand what they have done has been very selfish and very dangerous indeed."

Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan said: "We are very lucky no-one was killed or seriously injured after the fire engine crashed into parked cars and buildings. Not only was the danger in the appliance being driven by inexperienced drivers, but it also removed this appliance from being on call."

Preparations were being made to remove the fire engine on Saturday afternoon.