Young mum vows to leave her home after arson attack
A young mother and her children are too afraid to stay in their family home after an arson attack that could have killed them.
Lisa Scarlett was told by the Fire Service that if she hadn't fled her home when she did, the flames could have reached her oil tank within five minutes.
Luckily, a passing police patrol sprang into action and rescued Lisa, her three young children and her five-year-old nephew who has Down's syndrome after they spotted flames coming from her garden shed.
Ms Scarlett (27) was asleep in her home in Lisdoon Drive in the Shantallow area of Londonderry, where she has lived the past seven years, when the fire started in the early hours of Saturday.
She was awoken by police officers urging her to get out as quickly as possible because the fire was dangerously close to her oil tank.
Lisa, her children - aged eight, two and one - and her disabled nephew managed to escape in time after the PSNI officers heroically charged into the house and took the children to safety.
But she said she has been left with no choice now but to pack up and go.
"It is only now - a couple of days later - that the realisation of how close we were to being burned to death is actually hitting home with me," she said.
"The fireman who was here told me that five or 10 minutes later and they would have been dealing with a whole other matter.
"I can't get that thought out of my head that me and my children and my wee nephew might not have been here.
"I woke to see the policeman at my door telling me to get out because there was a fire.
"I told him, 'There are weans in every room of this house' but he didn't even take the time to listen to me - he ran straight past me to get to them.
"I could not think straight, all I could see was policemen coming past me having lifted the weans from their beds.
"They were terrified as you would expect, especially Dylan my nephew who was staying with us.
"He is only five and has Down's syndrome so he just couldn't understand what was going on."
The Fire Service has already confirmed the fire in the garden shed was started deliberately.
Ms Scarlett said it was not the first time arsonists have struck in the area and she fears it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.
She added: "There is a gang hanging around here, especially at the weekends and they have the whole place terrorised.
"They are drinking, smashing bottles and roaring and shouting to all hours but if you go out and say anything to them you are in fear of what will happen.
"It is breaking my heart leaving but when it's the lives of your children at stake - that is all that is important."