Community shows Christmas spirit to help mum after arson attack

Local mums have rallied to help a Craigavon woman after arsonists destroyed her children's Christmas presents.

Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 3:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 11:22 am
Sarah Harper surveys the fire damage to her bedroom. INLM50-206.

Sarah Jane Harper has been left homeless after cruel arsonists attacked her home destroying everything including Christmas presents for her children.

The 35-year-old mum had returned to her home in Enniskeen on Saturday to find her house broken into and the contents of her home still smouldering and warm.

However when the Lurgan Mail revealed her plight readers on Facebook rallied round to collect clothes and presents for her four year old boy and five year old girl.

Sarah Harper in one of her fire damaged bedrooms. INLM50-205.

The traumatised mum said she was gutted as she surveyed the enormous damage caused to her home, particularly presents she had bought for her children and special momentoes left to her by her father who passed away earlier this year.

One kind friend posted on Facebook: “* FOR A FRIEND ***

“Please if anyone has any spare clothes for a 4/5 year old (boy 4, girl 5), any old furniture not in use, old toys, house hold goods etc could yous help my friend out. She’s lost everything due to her house being set a lite and only managed to save a few pictures and one black bag of shoes. So close to Christmas and she’s lost completely everything including Christmas presents for her children. She hasn’t got a house just yet but could people please keep her in mind of anything they have spare or are throwing out.”

Sarah is overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone. She said it is great that everyone is helping out.

Sarah Harper. INML50-204.

Because of her current circumstances she has asked people to contact her privately via Facebook regarding donations.

Soot has blackened all the walls and what was once a couch now appears just a scorched wire shell.

“The TV was stolen,” said Sarah, adding that the culprits must have broken in through the front door.

“The heat of the flames has smashed the windows.

Sarah Harper in one of her fire damaged bedrooms. INLM50-205.

“They must have set fires all over the place,” she said adding they appear to have started fires on both beds upstairs as well as downstairs.

Sarah believes the fire must have been ignited sometime after 5am on Saturday morning and before she returned home at noon.

The NI Fire and Rescue Service said two appliances from Lurgan and Portadown attended and the nature of the fire was described as ‘deliberate’

She said a gang of youths had been seen in the area at around 5am near the house.

Sarah Harper. INML50-204.

Visibily upset, Sarah is still in shock and just doesn’t know how she is gong to manage through Christmas.

She said she had a load of presents particularly for her youngest two aged five and four years old.

She said the neighbours never heard the fire and it was she who called the emergency services when she arrived at noon on Saturday.

“I have lost everything,” said Sarah as she stood in her kitchen among sooted cupboards and melted appliances.

Canvas posters of her children have been scorched into the wall and a box of irreplaceable family photos destroyed.

All her furniture is burnt and unusable. Even clothes she had drying over radiators have been ruined.

Two special ornaments given to her by her dad before he died earliers this year still stand on the mantlepiece but are destroyed by the fire.

“These aren’t things I can replace,” she said.

Asked what she thought of those who did it and she said: ‘Karma’.

The PSNI said it received a report of a house fire in the Enniskeen area of Craigavon around noon on Saturday 10 December.

Detective Sergeant Colin Patterson said: “There were no reports of any injuries; however damage was caused to the property. We are treating the fire as suspicious at this stage.

“Detectives in Craigavon are currently making further enquiries. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 608 of 10/12/16. Alternatively, callers can use the Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111 to report information anonymously.”