Arson victim tells of shock

jpco-22-1-14-Man put out fire at his neighbour's house (Pic by Jon Rigby)
jpco-22-1-14-Man put out fire at his neighbour's house (Pic by Jon Rigby)

A woman has praised a neighbour who saved her after her door was doused in petrol and set on fire.

Sandra Sweetland, 67, and her husband Robin, of Wayside, Ifield, were in bed when they heard a loud banging on their window at 11.30pm on January 13.

They ran down the stairs to find their front door blackened by flames. A stench of petrol filled their home and their neighbour Marcin Gardziala was banging on their window.

Sandra said: “You read things like this happening but you never think it will happen to you.

“If it hadn’t been for him. I dread to think.

“I would like to thank him very much indeed.”

Sandra told how the drama unfolded: “I had just got under the covers and my husband heard a tap at the door. He said, ‘Did you hear that?’ I said, ‘No don’t worry’ because we had to get to sleep because we were going on holiday [the next day].

“Then we heard this banging on our window and it was getting louder and louder.

“My husband went and I followed. As we went into the hallway we could smell petrol.

“I was absolutely gob-smacked. I was crying.”

Marcin, 34, saw the flames from his kitchen window and quickly used pots, pans and a bin to carry water to the door and put out the flames.

He said: “I opened the window and saw fire everywhere. The flames were three metres high.

“I jumped straight up, took some pots of water and went outside and tried to extinguish it.”

Marcin’s wife Deada watched on as her husband banged on the window to wake the Sweetlands’.

She said: “We didn’t know if they could hear because they were asleep in the bedroom on the other side of the house.

“They are a very good neighbour. They are so nice.”

Police and fire brigade were at the house until around 2am so the Sweetlands’ attempted a couple of hours of nervous sleep before leaving their partly blackened home.

Throughout their two week holiday Sandra said she felt sick with shock.

They have lived in the house for 34 years and Sandra said they have never heard of any trouble like this on the estate.

She said: “When I walk down and see my front door it makes me want to cry.

“If we had done something to upset someone, even then I don’t think that should happen, but we’re such a happy couple, we’ve never done anything to upset any body.

“My daughter tells me I should move but why should I move?

“I would like those who did it to come forward and own up.”

The couple brought Marcin a present back from holiday to thank him for his bravery.