Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Monday, 26 December 2005

Ten escape following arson attack

Fire damage
Doors were burning in neighbouring homes along the street

Ten people had to leave their homes on Christmas day following an arson attack in County Armagh.

Flammable liquid was set alight outside a house in Obins Street, Portadown.

At about 0400 GMT, a woman in her 80s awoke to find that her front door was on fire. Doors in four other neighbouring homes were also burning.

There were no injuries but extensive damage was caused to the doors and there was smoke damage to the interior of the houses.

The woman who was awoken by the fire, went to her neighbour, Paul Grimley.

"I went to help her. The three houses were on fire. It looked as if the whole row was going to go up," he said.

"She was totally distressed. We got the fire out at her door, ran to the next door got it out and got the two people out, went to the next house and got the guy up there.

"We just did our best to put the fire out until the fire brigade came.

Mr Grimley said the attack was "an act of madness".

"People who did that have no concept of being human, especially to a pensioner at 80 years of age."

Neighbour Paul Grimley
People who did that have no concept of being human, especially to a pensioner at 80 years of age
Paul Grimley

Don MacKay from the Fire Service said 10 people had to be brought to safety.

"The Fire and Rescue Service led a family to safety, the age range was about from 10 to the mid-eighties. This fire could have had very, very serious consequences," he said.

Police have appealed to anyone with information about the attack to contact Crimestoppers 0800 555111.

Shock

Sinn Fein councillor Brian McKeown said the attacks had shocked the community.

He said those responsible were "intent on causing murder".

"There is clearly no other way to describe the actions of those responsible for putting flammable substances through the letterboxes of homes in the early hours of Christmas morning," he said.

Mr McKeown said it was fortunate that no-one had been killed.



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