THREE cars were torched within minutes of each other on a Sunderland estate.
Arsonists struck seemingly at random on Ford Estate, setting light to cars in Fordham Road, Fordenbridge Crescent and Felstead Crescent.
Steve Henderson was asleep in the front room of his home in Fordenbridge Crescent when his Audi was torched as it stood on the driveway.
The 42-year-old initially thought the blue lights were from an ambulance rather than a fire engine.
“I’ve been away for the weekend and I was dead to the world,” he said.
Steve, an off-shore worker, assumed he had been deliberately targeted until he was told about the other attacks.
“I thought somebody must have it in for me. The police said they were going to check the CCTV from the Round Robin area, to see if they could see anyone leaving the estate, but I don’t know if they’ll find anything.”
The attacks happened at about 1.30am yesterday. Leanne Gallagher was at home with daughter Merryn, 12, when her neighbour’s car was targeted on the road outside her home in Fordham Road.
Fortunately, five-year-old twins John and Gary were staying with their grandparents.
“My neighbour banging on my door woke me up. Luckily there was only me and my daughter in,” said the 30-year-old.
“Normally, my twin boys would have been here and I think they would have been absolutely terrified.
“It was really scary – we were worried about whether the engine was going to blow up and I did not know whether it was going to set fire to my car or even blow the windows out.”
Catherine Smith lives a couple of doors down from Leanne and raised the alarm.
“My son’s friend had left his van outside the house and I was keeping an eye on it,” she said.
“I could hear this sizzling noise. I looked outside and saw the flames.”
Catherine, 45, was shocked at what had happened.
“This is a really quiet street,” she said.
“We have been here 11 years and never had anything happen like this before.”
The owner of the third car, torched as it stood outside his home in Felstead Crescent, who not wish to be named, said: “It must have been about 1.30am – the dog was barking next door, we looked out of the window and the car was on fire.”
He believed the three incidents had been random attacks: “I have been past the other two cars, but I don’t know who they are.”
A police spokeswoman confirmed officers were investigating. Anyone with information should call 101, extension 69191 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.