Children flee arson attack on Sheerness house
Video: Fire investigators at the scene of the blaze in
by Lewis Dyson
A family of five fled from an arson attack on a
Sheerness home last night.
Paul Qualey, his children Gracie, six, Faith, four, and
one-year-old Frankie escaped along with girlfriend Cher Ryder, who
is Frankie's mother.
The front door was smashed in at around 10.30pm before a
flaming missile was thrown into the living room of their home
in Jefferson Road.
Miss Ryder, who was upstairs at the time, said: "I was
making the bed and I heard a massive bang and then I heard glass
smash and then I heard a whoosh of flames and I just froze.
"I was walking towards the hallway and there was smoke
everywhere and I screamed.
"I ran back up and screamed at the girls to get out of bed."
The 22-year-old then picked up her baby, went downstairs with
the children and left through the back door.
She ripped the back gate off and ran down an alley to the side
of the house (pictured right).
Mr Qualey was in the kitchen making a bottle for his son when
the front door was smashed.
Miss Ryder said if her 27-year-old partner had not been
downstairs at the time, they might not have noticed the blaze so
early - although the fire alarm did go off.
She added the blaze happened shortly after she had
turned the downstairs lights and television off so believes the
attacker was watching the house, waiting until they went to
Miss Ryder thanked her "brilliant" neighbours for rushing to
their aid with buckets of water.
Mr Qualey's mother, Liz Gray, said she felt "sick" after hearing
what had happened.
She said: "When I got there I was in hysterics. How is it going
to affect the kids?"
Family friend Andrew Packman said: "Three children could have
been killed, that's the bottom line.
"Someone must have noticed something, it wasn't that late and
it's a busy road up there."
Kent Police confirmed they are investigating the attack and
forensic teams were at the scene this morning.
Fire crews from Sheppey and Eastchurch stayed until midnight
making the area safe.
DS Lee Neiles, from Kent Police, said: "This was a disgraceful
and cowardly attack on a family home. Three young children were at
the property during the attack, but fortunately escaped
"However, it could have been a very different story. This arson
could potentially have ended in extremely tragic
Witnesses or anyone with information is asked to phone
police on 101, quoting crime reference 20-1718.
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