Belfast Telegraph

Man's lucky escape as Belfast home gutted in arson

The scene of the arson attack at Ardmonagh Parade in west Belfast
The scene of the arson attack at Ardmonagh Parade in west Belfast
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A terrified man who had a lucky escape after an arson attack gutted his home has said he has no idea why he was targeted.

The 56-year-old west Belfast resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was drinking tea and watching TV when a sofa was set on fire outside his house at Ardmonagh Parade.

He told how the blaze, which started around 2.15am yesterday, quickly spread, causing widespread damage to both his home and an adjacent bungalow, as well as extensive smoke damage to two other properties.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph shortly after the ordeal, the victim said he was "scared to death" when he saw the sofa engulfed in flames and he also revealed how he fled the scene via a gate in his back yard.

"I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise around 2.15am and then I realised that someone had set fire to the sofa out the front," he said.

"I was really scared. I went out the back gate and rang the fire brigade and, thankfully, they were here within five minutes. It was a frightening experience."

The man, who is unemployed and lives alone with his dog, is now staying with a neighbour in the area having been forced to leave his home of 11 years because the fire completely devastated the property.

"This has been a total shock," he said, visibly shaking.

"I haven't been fighting or arguing with anybody. I have no idea why this has happened or why anyone would do this to me.

"I've never had any trouble before and I can't think of any reason for the attack. I'm scared. It was a terrible feeling, standing outside watching your home burn. The fire ripped right through the house."

He added: "I haven't been allowed back into the house yet so I can't see what has been damaged but it doesn't look good."

Police later said there were two people in the house when the fire started and another in an adjacent property.

A woman, who asked not to be named, said the homes of two family members had been damaged as a result of the fire which began in the early hours of yesterday morning.

"We're still waiting to hear how much damage has been done to their property but everyone in the neighbourhood is totally shocked by this terrible attack," she said.

Detective Sergeant Conlan appealed for information and he said the PSNI attended the blaze yesterday along with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

"It is believed a sofa outside a house had been set on fire and this subsequently spread to the house itself," the policeman said.

"Two houses - this one and the adjacent property - have been badly damaged, while two other nearby properties have suffered extensive smoke damage.

"Enquiries are continuing and we are appealing to anyone with information, or who witnessed anything suspicious in the area, to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 152 of 01/08/19."

Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.

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