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Blaze fireball at Larne house as attackers strike twice in a week

By Cate McCurry

Two men have been arrested after a car was driven into the front of a house and set on fire in Larne yesterday.

It was the second time the house had been targeted in a week, after another two cars were set on fire outside the property on Killyglen Road.

The latest incident follows a series of arson attacks in Larne on homes and businesses in the last 10 days. It is not yet known if the incidents are linked.

Detectives investigating yesterday's attack arrested the pair, aged 32 and 23.

A 34-year-old man has also been arrested on suspicion of disorderly behaviour and assault on police.

He has also been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

Shortly after 4.30pm a Peugeot 206 ploughed into the front of the house and was set alight.

It's understood a number of people were inside the property at the time.

Terrified neighbours described how they heard shouting followed by two loud bangs.

The car was enveloped by flames, with smoke billowing at the front of the house.

"It's heartbreaking that this is continuing to happen," one neighbour said.

"It's meant to be a quiet Sunday and there are plenty of kids playing in the area and then this happens.

"I heard two loud bangs and went outside and saw the car up in flames.

"It was very scary as we didn't know where it could spread to.

"We could feel the heat metres away."

An ambulance was called to the scene shortly before 5pm. A few people were assessed by paramedics but no one was taken to hospital.

The area was busy with dog-walkers and children playing on a sunny afternoon when the incident happened.

Neighbours and onlookers spoke of their shock, with many calling for the attacks to stop.

"It is terrifying that this can happen in the middle of the day when there are children in the area," one shocked neighbour said.

"When is it going to stop? No one wants this.

"I heard two loud bangs and when I went to see what happened I could see the car in flames and smoke rising up."

Meanwhile, detectives investigating the spate of recent attacks in the town questioned four men aged 24, 28, 30 and 41 on Saturday. The men were detained at Sallagh Park Central in the town.

Last Monday a hair salon in the town centre was gutted by fire in what was claimed as a deliberate attack linked to a feud.

Commenting on yesterday's attack on the house at Killyglen Road, DUP councillor Paul Reid said extensive damage had been caused to the property. He added: "I totally condemn this; it has to stop before someone is seriously injured or, worse, is killed.

"This is escalating from attacking homes, then a business, which affected six other businesses in that block."

Oliver McMullan, Sinn Fein representative for the area, said: "Thankfully no one was injured but it is clear that the situation is getting out of hand.

"In recent weeks we have seen arson attacks on cars and businesses and now it has escalated with this attack on a home."

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson added: "They need to stop now before someone is injured or killed."

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