Smoke alarm saves arson neighbours

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A couple living in Hanover Street had a narrow escape last Saturday after arsonists targeted the house next door.

The woman and her partner were alerted after their smoke alarm went off around 11.15pm, and they noticed a ‘fog’ in their bedroom.

The woman said that if it hadn’t been for the alarm, and the fact that they weren’t working the next day and were still awake, they could have been killed.

She said, “These houses have gas heating and could have gone up. I was very shaken and we feel very lucky.

“We were told that whoever did this ripped the smoke alarm from the wall too.”

The tenant of the house that was targeted was not in.

The landlord said the culprits had kicked in the front door and set fire to a bed, as well as attempting to set the sofas in the living room alight

They also scrawled warning messages on the wall and a mirror.

A dog which is believed to have belonged to the tenant was found in the street, with injuries to its eye and ear.

The landlord, who does not wish to be named, said he was relieved no-one was injured but that he was shocked by the viciousness of it, and the complete disregard for the safety of neighbours.

He added, “Thank goodness, the sofa and carpets are fire-resistant, so the fire didn’t take hold downstairs.

“The house is mainly smoke damaged but that’s not what has upset me. It’s the fact there was no thought for the people and neighbours or what could happen to them.”

Three fire engines attended the blaze on the ground and first floors of the three-storey house.

Constable Foley said: “We are appealing to anyone who may have any information regarding this incident or to anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity in the area to contact Lurgan Reactive and Organised Crime Branch on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 1446 on 12/11/16.

“Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Meanwhile, a woman and her two children escaped injury after their home in the Birches was targeted in an arson attack early on Saturday. It was reported that wheelie bins were pushed up to the property and set alight.

(Full report on page 8).