A terrified cancer patient says she does not feel safe in her home after arsonists blew up her car.
Tina Ward, 50, was with her husband Tony when she was awoken by noise outside her window in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
She saw a man standing at the back of her parked car and a flame inside. It then exploded into a fireball.
Mrs Ward, of Leaveland Close, Stanhope, has been out of work since being diagnosed with cancer in August and has lived on the estate for 17 years. She said: “I wonder what’s next? Is it our house? Where do we go? Someone could have been dead.”
Mrs Ward, who was a health and safety officer before her illness, said: “I saw the man put something into the back of the car and then that it was alight. Within seconds it blew out the back windows.
“The flames were 40ft high and caught fire to trees. The whole car was engulfed. I just felt right then that I should’ve picked up my things and left Stanhope. It was very frightening. We don’t know why they targeted us.”
She said that in the past year there have been problems, with people seeing damage done to their cars, with nails to tyres and windows smashed, but does not know why her car appears to have been specifically targeted by the two suspected arsonists.
Husband Mr Ward, who works for Brakes food suppliers, had to rush out to move their son’s car out of the way of the flames.
He said: “I came here from south London and heard about the estate’s reputation. Stanhope is not as bad, but we feel like we are becoming an abandoned estate.
“There are a number of individuals and families who, either on or off the estate, are causing problems. It gets to the point where you don’t feel safe in your own home.”
The couple say that residents are now angry and that they want CCTV cameras for the estate after a spate of vandalism and other incidents, but say they feel “betrayed” by the police response so far.
Mrs Ward added: “I wonder what’s next. Is it our house? Where do we go? This incident could easily have spread and caused a bigger fire or a house fire. Someone could have been dead this morning.”
Police say they are investigating the incident and reviewing neighbours’ CCTV footage, which appeared to show a man in a dark T-shirt and grey bottoms start the fire before running off with a friend in a van.
Anyone with information can call the police on 101 and quote incident reference number 04875.