Attack ‘attempted murder’, says mum

A little girl's doll lies in the charred remains of a fire which almost claimed the lives of an entire family
A little girl's doll lies in the charred remains of a fire which almost claimed the lives of an entire family

A mum, whose three children and partner almost perished in an early morning blaze, has described the arson attack as attempted murder.

The 30-year-old, her partner, two boys aged 13 and eight and her little girl aged four fled their home after a neighbour banged on the door to wake them up.

Police said the fire which happened in Enniskeen at around 3.45am on Monday morning is being investigated as arson.

The terrified mum said: “We were lying in bed sleeping. A neighbour from across the street was lying in his bed with the window open and heard a noise and then saw the fire.

“He saved our lives. That’s what the fireman said. Another five minutes and we wouldn’t have been here.

“He was banging on my door and it scared the life out of me so I just jumped up and looked out the window and he was standing there shouting up, ‘Your house is on fire’

“I didn’t think twice. I just went into the boys’ room, grabbed the two of them and they ran down the stairs themselves and I went in and grabbed the wee girl. My partner then took her downstairs.

“Other neighbours were out at this stage and they took the kids over to my mum’s. Then I ran back in and got the dogs. We have a wee Shih-Tzu Maisie who was upstairs in her cage and our other dog was out the back yard where the fire was started. My partner ran into the back and got the dog out and the house just engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes. The fire brigade said if we had been in the house five more minutes we would all have been dead.

“The Fire Brigade told us it was started deliberately. They think it might have been the oil tank that was set on fire. We just got gas in recently so the oil tank was empty thankfully.

“My 13-year-old son rang the fire brigade as did a load of other people. The child was in an awful state.”

She described the arsonists as ‘scumbags’. “Whoever did it knew there were three children in that house,” she said. “I think it should be regarded as attempted murder. The five of us could have been killed in our beds. Only for that man across the street it would have been murder.

“Whoever did it thought there was more oil in the tank and meant for them all to be killed,” she said, adding that her eight-year-old has been having night terrors since the blaze.

“My youngest wee girl keeps asking about ‘her baby’ - her wee doll was damaged in the fire.

“There is nothing salvageable in the house at all. Everything is smoke damaged,” she said, adding that the entire family have had to temporarily move in with her mum.

“We were lucky to get out alive. We could have been killed.

“No one can understand why they did it. I have lived in that house ten years and never had any trouble. To know that someone deliberately lit a fire in my garden when my three children were in the house, doesn’t bear thinking about. It’s devastating. It has left us living in fear.”

Worried about her children, the 30-year-old mum said: “I hate to think what is going through their wee heads when they go to bed at night now.

“Only for my neighbour banging on my door, me and my family would not be alive. I can’t thank him enough,” she said.

The PSNI said it believes the fire was started deliberately and appealed for witnesses or anyone who saw any suspicious activity to call them at Lurgan Police Station on the non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 146180814.