Disabled woman left homeless after blaze
A disabled woman and her dog have been left without a permanent home after an arson attack badly damaged her Dunstable bungalow.
Sheila Martin, 50, was in bed when her home was set alight in one of a series of seemingly random fires on Friday morning.
Ms Martin, who suffers from arthritis and struggles with walking, was being looked after by sons Andrew and Daniel, who were sleeping in the next room.
She told the Gazette: “I’m not going back there. Hopefully they’ll sort me out with a new place soon, but I am not going back there.”
Ms Martin has been forced to live in a hotel room with Thunder, her Staffordshire bull terrier, who was also in the house at the time of the fire. At 6.15pm, the first blaze was started in Brive Road, followed by two in New Woodfield Green – one at 6.24pm and another seven minutes later.
Each fire was started when contents of wheelie bins were set alight, but on one occasion flames spread to the porch of Ms Martin’s home in New Woodfield Green, causing significant damage.
Ms Martin said: “I was in bed when it happened – it was early in the morning. I smelled the smoke, which is what woke me up.
“I got out of bed and my two sons took me outside under a cover. Then the lady next door ran round the back of my house and helped them get my dog out.
“I’ve no idea why someone would want to do this to me. I’m disabled and have trouble walking. I’m devastated – absolutely distraught. I can’t understand why. I don’t want to go back because of the damage. I’m wary of returning – it’s a combination of the two.”
A fire investigation officer at the scene said: “The bin fire has spread to the porch as it was early in the morning and no one noticed the fire for a few minutes.”
A spokesman for Aldwyck Housing Group, who own the property, said: “Our main priority is to look after our tenants and look after their wellbeing. Sorting this tenant out with permanent housing is our key priority.”
Det Con Jo Merry, investigating, said: “Thankfully no one has been harmed as a result of these arson attacks and damage has been kept to a minimum. However, we need to catch the person or persons who are committing these offences and stop any serious incidents from occurring.”
Anyone with information is urged to call Det Con Merry, in confidence, on 01582 473265, the non-emergency number 101, or text information to 07786 200011.
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