Belfast Telegraph

Mum helps save family of 10 in Northern Ireland arson attack

By Staff Reporters

A man whose Antrim home was targeted in an arson attack said yesterday that he feared for the lives of his eight young children who were asleep inside the property when it was set alight.

The father, who wished to remain anonymous, said that it was only the quick-thinking actions of his wife, who raised the alarm around midnight, that they were able to flee the property unharmed.

The blaze is believed to have been sparked when an accelerant was poured on the front of the property - located in the Islay Street area of the town - before being ignited.

The man said his wife, along with their eight children - all aged between one and 13 - were extremely lucky to have escaped with their lives.

"My wife was awake looking at her phone when I heard her shout," he recalled. "We got the kids and the door was completely on fire. We ended up in the back waiting for the fire service.

"I feared for my children's lives, my wife's life and my own."

The family moved into the home around a year ago, however, tensions have been running high in the area since the same property was set on fire around four weeks ago.

Around a month ago a fire broke out at the rear of the family home, when the children's wooden play house was deliberately set alight in the garden, the 35-year-old explained.

He said he believed his family had been targeted in a "hate crime" because they are all members of the Travelling community.

The latest incident provoked widespread political condemnation on Thursday, with local councillors Jim Montgomery of the UUP and the SDLP's Roisin Lynch warning that lives could have been lost in the attack.

Mr Montgomery said: "Not only did it risk the lives of those in the house but also of those people living nearby if the fire had spread.

"Disputes cannot be sorted through such irresponsible and dangerous actions and there must not be a repetition of such dangerous actions."

Mr Montgomery stressed that such attacks show "total disregard for others" are not welcome in the community.

Councillor Lynch underlined the UUP member's message, adding that her thoughts were with the family who had been subjected to a frightening ordeal by the "reckless actions" of others.

"Thankfully no-one was hurt, but it is simply unacceptable that a family, with eight children in the house, were attacked in this way," she said.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Springfarm and District Community Association Seamus Davis confirmed there is an ongoing situation in the residential area.

"The family who were attacked have been attacked before and this must be condemned by everyone," he said.

"There were children in that house, we could so easily be taking about something horrific today as a result of this - they all could have been murdered."

Police are treating the incident as arson with intent to endanger life.

They have appealed to anyone with information to contact them via the 101 number or phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Belfast Telegraph

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