Sheffield bin blaze pair’s lucky escape

The fire damaged bungalow at Stovin Gardens, Sheffield.

The fire damaged bungalow at Stovin Gardens, Sheffield.

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TWO men escaped with their lives after a wheelie bin was set alight outside their front door as they slept.

The attack at 41-year-old Mark Goddard’s bungalow on Stovin Gardens, Darnall, Sheffield, came two days after a firework was pushed through a neighbour’s letterbox and exploded in her hallway.

Another neighbour, 50-year-old Gill Athorne, has had a lit firework thrown into the wheelie bin outside her home and a blazing firework thrown into her garden, and her 30-year-old son Gary Ashmore has had fireworks hurled at him as walked through the estate.

Fire service investigators said because of the extent of damage to Mr Goddard’s bin it was impossible to tell if a firework was responsible, but a police probe is underway.

Flames spread to the front door and canopy and shattered a window. The blaze also smoke-logged the property and damaged a gas pipe outside.

Mr Goddard’s neighbour Avril, whose home had to be evacuated for three hours while firefighters tackled the blaze and gas engineers cut off the supply, said: “Whoever did this could have killed somebody.

“My neighbour was banging on the wall between our home and then on my back door shouting at me to get out, and when I looked there were flames at the front door and everywhere.

“They could easily have spread into Mark’s house and then mine - it’s terrifying.

“On Tuesday a firework exploded in my hallway after they pushed it through my letter box. I am so frightened they are going to do it again I have taped it up now.”

Gill, who moved to Darnall from Parson Cross five months ago, said: “I had a firework put into my recycling bin, they threw one in my garden and they even threw bangers at my son when he was out.

“These people don’t realise the seriousness of what they are doing - they are playing with people’s lives. Somebody could easily be killed.

“Setting fire to a bin outside your house could trap you inside.

“I am so scared of them putting one through my letterbox I got the council to block mine up.”

Her son Gary said: “Something needs to be done about this, they are going too far now and putting lives at risk.”

In 2005 three members of the same Sheffield family died when their wheelie bin was set alight and pushed up against their home.

Anthony Brightmore, aged 68, and his wife Patricia, 65, died together in their home on Batemoor Walk, Batemoor, and their blind son Stephen, 35, died two days later.

A fire brigade spokesman said: “Setting fire to a bin outside a property is extremely dangerous. This fire could easily have spread inside or trapped people.

“There have sadly been fatalities in South Yorkshire in the past because of this type of incident so we are concerned to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.”

Carol Whittaker, assistant area manager at Sheffield Homes, said: “Anti-social behaviour of any kind is distressing to our tenants and something we will not tolerate. We are working hard with the police to catch whoever is responsible.

“We are in the process of screening off Mr Goddard’s property to make it safe and will discuss various rehousing options available to him until his home is once again habitable. We are in the process of arranging an interview with Ms Athorne to discuss her rehousing options also.”

Insp Paul Ferguson said: “South Yorkshire Police are aware of a recent spate of antisocial behaviour and criminal damage on the Greenlands estate, Darnall.

“There have also been reports of young people misusing fireworks. South Yorkshire Police is working with Sheffield Council, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, trading standards and local retailers to tackle the illegal sale of fireworks.”