A FAMILY who had hopes of setting up their dream home in Huntingdon found flames lapping at their children s bedroom windows after an arson attack. The fire is believed to have started in a nearby bush – one of several bush fires in Huntingdon that night

Paul Theobald

A FAMILY who had hopes of setting up their dream home in Huntingdon found flames lapping at their children's bedroom windows after an arson attack.

The fire is believed to have started in a nearby bush - one of several bush fires in Huntingdon that night.

Home owner Paul Theobald moved to American Lane eight weeks ago from Offord with his partner Nichola and two children Bradley 12 and Lewis 10.

On Wednesday evening, their home became the victim of arsonists who set fire to a nearby bush with the flames spreading to their home.

Speaking to The Hunts Post the day after the fire, Mr Theobald said the fire had left his family devastated.

"It is all a bit of a mess. The fire cracked all the double glazing on the front windows of the house that had only been installed two weeks ago and will now all need replacing and the door was also damaged," Mr Theobald said.

Describing what happened on the night of the fire, the father of two said: "It was just after 11.30pm and I had gone to bed. The first thing I knew about the fire was when I heard Nichola shout 'fire.'

The boys then woke up screaming because they could see flames at their bedroom window and the window was cracking because of the heat of the fire."

Luckily, all the family managed to escape the blaze through the back door of the house. Mr Theobald said: "God knows how we escaped without being injured. This could have had devastating consequences.

"The flames were about 20 foot high - the house did not stand a chance.

"We had a car on the driveway and I was worried about it blowing up in front of the house so I had to run alongside the flames to move it."

Both family cars were damaged by the blaze, which was extinguished by fighters from Huntingdon Fire Station.

Mr Theobald believes the cost of the repair work will run to thousands of pounds with the windows alone costing £3,600 to replace.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said: "This incident is believed to have started in a bush and spread to a car and then to a property. We are investigating it as a suspected arson."

On the same evening, firefighters were called at 11.54pm to reports of bushes on fire in Oberon Close,

Hartford.

Crews also attended a similar incident a few hours later at 2.40am when hedges were set on fire in Kings Ripton Road, Huntingdon.

In both incidents the fires, are believed to have been started deliberately and were extinguished before they could spread to nearby properties.

Figures obtained by The Hunts Post show that Huntingdon had 79 deliberate ignition grass fires including bush and tree fires in the period from March 30 2006 to

April 1 2007.

From the beginning of April to June 25 this year the town has had 10 incidents, making Huntingdon the second worst in the county for deliberate ignition figures.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "These culprits should realise that their actions have potentially life-threatening consequences.

"Fire is extremely unpredictable and can spread very quickly to nearby vegetation, cars and even homes. What might be considered fun by some can very easily end in tragedy."

INFORMATION: Anyone with information is asked to contact Huntingdon Police Station on 0845 45645654 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.