Belfast Telegraph

Belfast house gutted in arson attack

By Catherine Lynagh

An arson victim has described losing everything he owned in the blink of an eye.

East Belfast resident Steven McIlwee, and other occupants of St Leonard's Crescent and Chadolly Crescent, are living in fear following the events of Tuesday night.

Mr McIlwee went to bed early only to woken at around 8.45pm by a neighbour banging on his front door.

He said: “I was in bed when I heard my neighbour banging on my front door.

“When I went down and opened the door my neighbour screamed at me ‘your house in on fire’.”

Mr McIlwee described stepping off his front porch and seeing his house go up in flames.

“I initially thought they were joking, but as soon as I stepped out the door and looked around, the whole house just ignited |behind me,” he said.

He thinks his neighbour saved his life.

It is believed his oil tank was set on fire, causing his home of |13 years to burn down.

Fighting back tears yesterday, Mr McIlwee said he has lost everything except the clothes on his back.

He said: “I feel very depressed about what has happened and I haven’t slept since.

“I have no idea why anyone would want to do this to me. I get on with everyone in this street.

“I have been very upset since this happened and I haven’t been feeling very well.

“I think it was a random attack but I just don’t know. I like living here and I have no reason to leave, so I’m definitely going to move back in when I can.”

Residents said this was the latest in a long line of recent indiscriminate arson attacks in the area.

Dawn Blair, who lives adjacent to Steven, said: “We believe it was youths, but we really don’t know.

“We can’t think of any reason why this street is being targeted by them.

“We can’t point the finger at this stage because there is no evidence.

“We believe that if we can get gates put on the alleyway that runs behind the houses we can stop these attacks.”

Police have confirmed the blaze was not an isolated incident.

A spokesman said: “Police are investigating a small number of incidents of arson in this area and are following a definite line of enquiry.”

Belfast Telegraph


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