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Guinness saves family after arson attack

PUBLISHED: 14:30 11 October 2001 | UPDATED: 15:18 03 March 2010

A FAMILY today hit out at the sick thugs responsible for an early morning fire which could have killed them and their neighbours.

Dawn Allen, 38, her daughter Carla, 15, and family friend Wayne King, 17, were asleep in their rented terraced home in Elliott Street when arsonists set light to furniture in the back garden.

A FAMILY today hit out at the sick thugs responsible for an early morning fire which could have killed them and their neighbours.

Dawn Allen, 38, her daughter Carla, 15, and family friend Wayne King, 17, were asleep in their rented terraced home in Elliott Street when arsonists set light to furniture in the back garden.

The family woke up just before 4 am to hear their dog, Guinness – a German Shepherd and Dalmatian cross – barking loudly.

By this time the inferno had spread to the roof of their home and to a neighbouring property.

"If Guinness hadn't kept barking I don't know what would have happened – we wouldn't have woken up," said Dawn.

"The fire service told us that if we didn't get out when we did the whole place would have gone up."

Her daughter, Carla, a Stoke High School pupil, takes up the story. "When I woke up I was coughing.

"I had my bedroom window open and there was smoke coming through. My bedroom is above the roof, which was on fire.

"I looked out the window and our back garden was in flames. There was a three-piece suite up against the window along with a mattress. I think someone put petrol on it and set it alight.

"I just didn't know what to do. We were really worried. It was early morning and we could all have been asleep."

The family had a new three piece suite so moved it outside the house.

The fire was blazing furiously and spread to the neighbouring property – threatening their lives too.

Firefighters had to cut away part of the flat roof at the back of the house to get at the fire.

Dawn added: "Whoever was responsible was this was sick in the head. We could have all lost our lives including our neighbours – and children live here."

A neighbour raised the alarm and one appliance from Princess Street attended because the emergency call they had received was to rubbish on fire.

No further appliances were needed because the team had brought the blaze under control.

Sub officer Pat Lacey the fire officer in charge said the fire is being investigated.

"It was a very, very reckless act and was obviously quite wilful. Without a doubt it endangered lives.

"If a neighbour hadn't raised the alarm when they did you would have been looking at a fire more serious incident. The house was heavily smoke logged and people were asleep in the house.

"Whoever has done this it is a dreadful thing to do. It has endangered the lives of two families both of whom had children in the house."

Worryingly the family would have woken up earlier if they had taken the taken the batteries out of their smoke alarm.

The fire service will be talking to them family to give them advice on relocating the alarm and the advice is also open to others.

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