Northern Ireland news

Arson attack on Co Derry home 'may have been captured on CCTV'

The Fire Service said a blaze at a house on Long Commons in Coleraine, Co Derry, was started deliberately

AN arson attack on a house in Co Derry may have been captured on the householder's CCTV camera.

A couple in their fifties and their 15-year-old granddaughter had to flee the end-terrace home on Long Commons in Coleraine early on Sunday after a neighbour saw flames coming from the property.

The alarm was raised at around 5.15am.

It is understood the fire was started on the ground floor below where the teenager, who was staying with her grandparents for the weekend, was sleeping.

The family managed to escape before fire crews arrived.

A spokeswoman for the Fire Service confirmed the attack was being treated as arson. However, a PSNI spokeswoman said the "cause of the fire has not yet been determined and enquiries are still on-going".

A Fire Service spokeswoman said: "Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus contained and extinguished the fire.

"All three casualties were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by ambulance personnel.

"The cause of the fire was determined as deliberate."

The fire was put out before 6am.

The attack is not thought to be linked to paramilitaries.

It is understood that CCTV cameras at the house and a nearby pub may have captured those responsible.

One of the cameras is thought to have captured a bright flash shortly before the blaze began.

Ulster Unionist councillor William McCandless said he visited the family on Sunday afternoon.

"I want to pay tribute to the community spirit in the area, particularly to the neighbour who alerted them," he said.

"Several neighbours have offered their help. It's just fortunate the family managed to escape."

PUP councillor Russell Watton said the entire downstairs of the family's home had been gutted in the attack.

"It was the internal oak doors that saved them," he said. "We are very, very lucky not to be looking at three deaths."

Mr Watton said the couple had temporarily taken down their smoke alarms because they were redecorating.

"The wee woman across the street ran over and knocked on their door," he said.

"The man told me that when he went down the stairs he was nearly choked with the smoke."

The councillor said the attack had caused "huge disquiet" in the town.

"I am hoping that there will be an arrest very soon."

In September, 12 people were evacuated from an apartment block on Long Commons after a suspected arson attack.

A fire was started in a second floor flat just after 2am on September 27.

The Fire Service said the blaze had been started deliberately.

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