Arsonists strike as Derry woman and four children are asleep

The burnt out shed
The burnt out shed

A Derry mother is to leave her home of seven years after arsonists torched a shed in her garden next to the oil tank.

Lisa Scarlett said she was now too frightened to stay in her Liscloon Drive home in the Shantallow area of Derry.

The shed on fire in the Liscloon Drive area of Shantallow on Saturday morning.

The shed on fire in the Liscloon Drive area of Shantallow on Saturday morning.

Ms Scarlett (28) said she awoken at 6am on Saturday as police officers entered her home and ran upstairs and told her there was a fire.

Ms Scarlett’s three children Lea (8), Caidenn (2) and Cealach (1), along with Lisa’s five-year-old nephew Dylan, who was staying over, were all asleep in the house at the time.

She described the entire episode as a “nightmare”, adding that she now has no option but to leave for the safety of her children and herself.

Recalling what happened, Lisa said: “I had heard nothing up until I was woken by police coming up my stairs. I was standing at the top of the stairs and they said ‘there’s a fire, you need to get out’.

I can’t believe people would do that knowing I have wains in this house.

Lisa Scarlett

“They went and grabbed the wains, I was just in shock, all I could see was my wains being brought down the stairs. I remembered my nephew was staying as well and he has Down Syndrome and I had to try and get him wakened out of his sleep and he was very unsettled.

“My oil tank is right next to the shed and the flames was that high that it was somebody in Leafair who saw it and got the Fire Brigade.

“We were told we were really lucky to get out when we did. That’s why the police were running in. Any longer and it would have caught the oil tank and would have been ten times worse.

“I couldn’t believe it happened. I can’t believe people would do that knowing I have wains in this house.”

The shed that was gutted in the blaze contained the children’s outdoor toys and car seats for the babies, although Lisa said she is relieved their Christmas toys were in the house at the time.

The incident comes two years after another arson episode when some of the children’s toys were shoved into the family’s wheelie bin, which was then set alight.

There have been other reports of arson attacks and other anti-social behaviour in the area over the past few years.

Lisa said she now has no option but to leave the home she has just redecorated, and said she will be extremely sad to leave her “brilliant neighbours”.

“I love my neighbours here, I’ll be so sorry to leave them, and Lea’s school is here and friends in the street.

“But I have to get out of here. I’m packed up and all now. I am going to the Housing tomorrow morning to hand in the keys.

“I just want to get out of this area. I don’t feel we are safe. I slept on the sofa last night and was tossing and turning, checking the windows. I can’t stop thinking about it.”