Belfast man lucky to escape alive after arson gang strikes
A neighbour of a young man who was rescued from an upstairs flat following an arson attack in west Belfast says he is lucky to be alive.
It is understood three young men live in the rented property in Aitnamona Crescent.
However, only one person was at home when a wheelie bin was pushed against the front door and set alight at around 7.20am on Friday.
"I looked out because the flames were everywhere but the fire brigade had already arrived," the neighbour said.
"I begged to go up and get people out but only one of them was in - I think he was in bed."
The young mum said she was forced to go back inside due to the intensity of the flames.
"The heat was unbearable, I had to turn away," she explained.
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"The front door was destroyed and the flames and smoke were starting to go inside. I'm surprised that wee fella got out alive."
Two appliances from Springfield Fire Station attended the scene. Firefighters used breathing apparatus and hose reel jets to tackle the fire before rescuing a male from the property.
"The cause of the fire was deliberate ignition," a Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said.
Another neighbour expressed concern that tensions could escalate in the area.
"This is the second attack this week," they said.
"Obviously someone wants them out and they are making that very clear."
The property was badly smoke-damaged in the incident which happened less than a week after a pipe bomb was thrown at the house.
The device detonated in the front garden of the property last Saturday night.
The occupant reported hearing what they believed was a firework going off at around 11.30pm.
But on Sunday morning they discovered the remnants of an explosive device outside and realised that the front door was damaged as a result.
Bomb disposal experts attended the scene and removed the pieces of suspect material for further examination.
Detective Inspector Stephen Harvey branded the attack "reckless" and expressed gratitude that no one was badly injured.
Police have appealed for anyone who noticed suspicious activity in the area at the time of the incident or anyone with any information to contact them at Musgrave on 101.