Narrow escape in arson attack

Damian Cardwell looks at the damage to his home and motorbike. INLM1312-102gc
Damian Cardwell looks at the damage to his home and motorbike. INLM1312-102gc
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ARSONISTS who attacked homes in Garland Avenue at the weekend are guilty of attempted murder, according to one of the home owners.

Five people narrowly escaped death as they woke to flames battering against their bedroom windows in the early morning blaze.

The damage to houses in Garland Avenue after wheelie bins were set on fire. INLM1312-103gc

The damage to houses in Garland Avenue after wheelie bins were set on fire. INLM1312-103gc

Damien Cardwell told the ‘MAIL@ how he woke around 3.30am last Thursday morning to a loud bang and saw the flames battering against his bedroom window.

He raced to wake his 22-year-old son, James and as the pair fled their home they saw a wheelie bin pushed up against his living room window in flames.

The blaze was so ferocious it had set the wooden window frames alight and started to spread to the next door neighbour’s property.

He knocked the window of his neighbour’s home and managed to wake them up. They also were able to escape the inferno.

The living room of the house at Garland Avenue which was damaged by fire. INLM1312-104gc

The living room of the house at Garland Avenue which was damaged by fire. INLM1312-104gc

Damien watched helplessly as his beloved motorbike which had been parked in the front garden was completely destroyed by the fire.

“The intensity of the fire broke the glass in my next door neighbour’s house and if they hadn’t have wakened up they could have suffered serious smoke inhalation or even died,” said Mr Cardwell, revealing that his neighbour had to be treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.

“Luckily I had double glazing and the window wasn’t broken till the firemen arrived,” he said.

“But if I had had a few drinks in me and been fast asleep I might not have heard the noise and seen the fire till it was too late.

“To me, that was attempted murder. We are very lucky to have got out alive. If the petrol tank had gone up on my bike, God knows what would have happened.

“And only recently I had the gas meter moved to the other side of the house. Before it was just where they had set fire to the wheelie bin. That could have blown us all up,” said Mr Cardwell.

Police are investigating another fire in the same neighbourhood, at Albert Mews at around the same time as the fire in Garland Avenue.

Again a wheelie bin was set on fire.

Mark Turner, Assistant Director of the South Ulster Housing Association said at least £2,500 worth of damage was done to their property.

Mr Turner said there had been some anti-social behaviour in the past, however it had been calm in recent years.

“There is an element in the area who seem hell bent on causing mayhem,” said Mr Turner.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service arrived within minutes and managed to get the fire under control very quickly.

However, thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to both houses and Mr Cardwell’s motorcycle - a Honda 600c.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said it was a ‘deliberate fire’.

She added the service had received a call at 3.35am on March 22 of a motorcycle on fire.

One fire appliance attended the scene.

“Fire had spread to the exterior of a house – Firefighters extinguished the fire by 3.50am using one hose reel jet.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police in Lurgan are appealing for information following two fires overnight between Wednesday, March 21, and Thursday, March 22. At 3.36am police received a report of a motorcycle on fire at Garland Avenue. Police and NIFRS attended.

“The motorcycle was destroyed and scorch damage caused to guttering and windows. One man suffered smoke inhalation.

“Police also received a report of a bin on fire at Albert Mews around the same time. NIFRS attended and extinguished the fire.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000.