“My neighbour came flying in and said, ‘Get out, the house is on fire’”

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One of original residents of

Carnhill, who has been living in the estate since it was developed in the early 1970s, has spoken of her shock after narrowly escaping a suspected arson attack on her home.

Jacqueline Holden, aged 55, was putting her three-year-old granddaughter to bed on Thursday, July 26, when a friend burst through the door urging the occupants to evacuate immediately because their home was on fire.

Mrs. Holden, who lives in the house with her husband and daughter, said she dreaded to think what might have happened had it not been for the swift actions of her neighbour.

“I was actually lifting the wee granddaughter to take her up to bed,” she told the ‘Journal’.

“I was going up the stairs when my neighbour came flying in the back door and said, ‘Get out, get out of the house, it’s on fire.’

“I didn’t even see it because I was going in through the front to take the child to bed.

“If it had happened in the middle of the night it could have been far, far worse.

“It was awful as it was. Terrible,” she said.

Mrs. Holden, who has been living in the house since she was eight-years-old, told the ‘Journal’ that she believed arsonists were responsible for the blaze.

The source, she explained, has been pinpointed to her garden shed, which was totally destroyed by the inferno.

The fire spread to the front wall and windows of Mrs. Holden’s home before it was thankfully contained.

“The garden shed went up. When my friend came around the next day he said it had started from away over at the side of the shed.

“They must have poured stuff over the front of my wall because I live facing out - Pennyburn School and the Collon Lane are just out facing my front street.

“So whoever did it, he reckons they came over the front of my garden wall.”

Mrs. Holden has now been living in Carnhill for nearly half a century.

She confirmed that what happened to her and her family last week has been largely unheard of in the area.

“I’ve been living in this house since I was eight years of age.

“It was my parents’ house. I’ve been living here since I was eight and I’m 55 now.

“I’m over 40 odd years in this house and there was never anything like this.

“It scared the life out of my wee girl. It’s awful.”

“It was always quiet in Carnhill. I’ve lived here all my life and never had any bother with anyone. I’m in shock. I can’t get over it.”

Considerable scorch damage was caused to the front facade of Ms. Holden’s home as a result of the arson attack.

Two of her front windows had to be boarded up having been cracked by the intense heat and this week there remained a lingering smell of charred wood in her front garden where the remnants of the incinerated shed lay.

“My window and my kitchen window and my bathroom window, they were all melted and boarded up. It’s ridiculous,” she stated, adding that it will take some time to get back to normality.

Independent councillor for the Ballyarnett District Electoral Area (DEA), Warren Robinson, offered his support to the Holden family and said those behind the suspected attack needed to stop their activities before someone is killed.

“The family is distraught at this happening. They don’t know the reason why. They don’t know who did it.

“I would appeal to whoever is doing these type of activities in this area to stop immediately,” he said.

Colr. Robinson said it was only by extreme good fortune and the alertness of the family’s neighbours that a tragedy was averted.

“Young people could be killed. There was a child of three years of age in the house. That child could have been killed. The rest of the family could have been killed,” said Colr. Robinson.

The independent councillor issued a direct appeal to those responsible for the incident and asked them to consider the potential consequences of their behaviour.

“If people are doing this they really need to think about their actions and pull back before somebody really gets hurt,” he said.

He also offered comfort to the Holden family who had been traumatised by the targeting of their home.

“They are terrified. They are nervous. They are distraught. They don’t know what’s going to happen.

“People who are behind, this please desist. Please don’t carry out these activities,” he said.