Watch: Woman's narrow escape after her house is destroyed in arson attack
A woman in her 60s narrowly escaped death after an arson attack on her Londonderry home.
Bins at the back of the woman's Greenhaw Cottages home were set alight shortly after 8pm on Tuesday.
It spread to her oil tank, causing a ferocious blaze that took five fire appliances to quell.
The flames destroyed the Racecourse Road property and damaged the woman's car, which had been parked at the rear of the building.
The woman was treated for shock and has since gone to stay with her son.
Neighbours, who had to be evacuated for fear that the blaze would spread, say it is lucky that no one was hurt or killed in the incident.
Shocking footage shows the extent of damage done to a home in Greenhaw Cottages area of #Derry. A woman in her 60s escaped harm after fleeing the house which was set ablaze deliberately. Bins at the back of her home were set alight, setting her oil tank then her house on fire pic.twitter.com/SuTvkxBYr1— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) April 10, 2019
A man who lives next door to the cottage said the fire took hold so quickly his neighbour could have perished.
"Shortly after 8pm my neighbour Breda called at my door and said she had heard a cracking noise out in her back yard," said James, who did not want to reveal his surname.
"She was shaking and frightened.
"I ran around the back of our houses, thinking that someone had lit a firework that had set fire to a bin.
"I had thought I could go into her back yard, get a bucket of water and put it out, but it was already alight at that stage. Someone called the fire brigade. We couldn't even go near the bins, the heat was so intense.
"Breda called to the other next-door neighbours, a man in that house has cancer, and told them to get out. Just before the Fire Service arrived the whole thing went up, the oil tank, everything.
"When I saw the fire it frightened me."
He said he was sure the flames would spread and destroy his home and the one on the other side of the burning property.
"It spread right across to my shed before the fire crews were able to put it out," he added.
"Thank God our houses didn't go, we just have smoke damage.
"The whole street was evacuated. Nobody was hurt, thank goodness."
James said that whoever was behind the attack is "mindless".
"It's amazing how quick the fire spread," he said.
"You are talking minutes and it was up.
"If this had have happened a little later in the night, maybe when Breda was sleeping, or maybe in the early hours of the morning, she wouldn't have been woken up, because she sleeps at the front of the house.
"The fire ripped through the house so quickly. It doesn't even bear thinking about. It is just totally mindless."
Police have appealed for information following the arson attack.
They are also investigating a possible link to damage caused to a car parked at Greenhaw Avenue sometime between 9.30pm and 10.30pm.
It is believed that a slate was thrown through the rear window of the vehicle.