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Family in lucky escape after arson attack on shed and oil tank in Holywood

By Chris McCullough

Published 15/02/2016

The damage caused in the arson attack at Holywood
The damage caused in the arson attack at Holywood
The damage caused in the arson attack at Holywood
DUP MLA Gordon Dunne

Two young parents and their four-year-old daughter were lucky to escape with their lives after an arson attack on their home.

The drama unfolded around 6.30am on Saturday at the Fodens' home in Clarehill Lane, Holywood.

In what the family believes was a random attack, the garden shed - with £4,000 worth of contents inside - was set on fire.

But the flames then spread to the oil tank and their home, causing the side windows to blow out.

Thomas Foden (27) and his wife Teri (25) said they were lucky to be alive, and won't be returning to the house.

Later on Saturday police arrested a 33-year-old man in nearby Oakley Avenue in connection with the arson.

Mr Foden said: "My wife woke up after she heard a noise and wasn't sure what it was. She thought it was the delivery of oil we were due to get that morning, but it was actually crackling on the baby monitor she could hear.

"She looked out of the window and the whole street was lit up orange.

As we were running out the door, I looked out a side window and saw the whole shed was alight and it was probably about 30 seconds to a minute from catching on to the oil tank.

"The side window in the house blew out only a couple of minutes after we got out.

"Our daughter's window, which looked out over the shed, was a couple of minutes from blowing out as well.

"One of our neighbours kindly let us in to their house for shelter while the fire brigade were dealing with the fire. They also gave my wife a change of clothes as she fell in the garden and got soaked during the ordeal."

The couple and their daughter are now staying elsewhere.

They had rented the house in Clarehill Lane for 18 months, but won't be back.

Mr Foden added: "The shed was full of furniture and garden tools. The shed belonged to the landlord and is insured, but the contents were ours.

"We are going to stay in a relative's apartment in the town for now until we can find our own place again.

"Neither my wife nor my daughter want to return to that house. It has been a great place to live with no trouble, but this has put us off living there."

His sister Molly has set up a gofundme page to help the young family replace some of the items lost in the fire including bikes belonging to Mrs Foden and her daughter. By yesterday afternoon it had reached £535.

DUP MLA Gordon Dunne, who visited the property yesterday afternoon, said: "The community is in shock over this incident. Community relations are very good in this area but the fire has shocked everyone, especially those in the private Clarehill development.

"The police have arrested a man for starting this fire. Such behaviour is totally unacceptable in this area or any other area."

Police said the suspect was arrested early on Saturday. He remains in custody.

Detective Constable Kacey Dickson said: "Thankfully the occupants, a couple aged 27 and 25, and their four-year-old daughter, were able to make their way outside unharmed. However, their home was extensively damaged.

"We are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information on this crime to get in touch with us by calling detectives on 101."

If anyone wishes to donate to the family, the link is

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