Arson attack: Family ‘terrified’ to return home

Damage caused by arson attack on a home in Greenhaw Crescent on Saturday night. DER24217GS007
Damage caused by arson attack on a home in Greenhaw Crescent on Saturday night. DER24217GS007

A family say they are ‘terrified’ after an arson attack at their Shantallow home resulted in a garden shed and an oil tank being ‘burned to the ground’.

The family believe they ‘could have been killed’ in the blaze and say they’re ‘lucky’ there was no oil in the tank.

There were six children in the property in Greenhaw Crescent when the shed at the back of the house was set on fire in the early hours of Sunday morning.

As well as the damage to the shed and oil tank, scorch damage was caused to the rear of the house.

The tenant, a woman who does not wish to be identified, says her family are now ‘terrified’ to return to their home.

“We have lived there for five years and we were happy there,” she said. “It’s a really quiet area. There is no reason for anyone to target us. We keep ourselves to ourselves.”

She told the ‘Journal’ her teenage son raised the alarm in the early hours of Sunday morning.

“He heard banging outside and, when he looked out the window, he could see the flames. There were six children in the house - my four children and two of their friends who were there for a sleepover. We got out as soon as possible.

“You could feel the heat of the fire inside the house and hear the windows cracking. If there had been any oil in the tank, we would have been leaving the house in body bags.”

A number of houses in the area had to be evacuated and two fire engines were tasked to the scene to extinguish the fire.

The Northern Ireland Fire Rescue Service have confirmed the cause of the fire was deliberate ignition.

The woman said the family have lost thousands of pounds worth of belongings in the fire.

‘We are terrified and scared at the thought of someone creeping around the house. We don’t trust anybody because we don’t know who is responsible - we could be walking past them in the street.’

The woman has praised the swift actions of the NIFRS and the PSNI.

She has appealed for anyone with information to contact police because ‘no one should get away with doing this’.

“None of us have slept since the fire and my wains don’t want to be in the house. We are now trying to get re-housed because they are so terrified.”

She urged those responsible to ‘catch themselves on’.

“They don’t realise they could have killed someone and don’t care. I have no clue whatsoever why anyone would do this to us. You don’t know what could happen next, they could kill someone and ruin a family.”

The woman said that while no one was physically injured and ‘we may look alright on the outside we are scarred on the inside.

Police have appealed for information following the suspected arson attack.

Officers have appealed to anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the area or anyone who has any information which could assist them with their enquiries to ring 101 quoting reference number 279 11/06/17. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.