A MAN says he is lucky to be alive after arsonists attacked his home.
Kevin Baxter awoke to find the boat he keeps on the drive of his Hylton Castle home engulfed in flames.
The 55-year-old says had it not been for strong overnight winds blowing the fire away from his house, the blaze could have had tragic consequences.
His £2,000 motor-powered fishing boat was destroyed in the blaze and police and fire crews are investigating whether it was linked to a nearby attack, where three cars and a caravan were torched.
Kevin, a supply teacher, said: “I had been out with friends extending the New Year celebrations and got home and to bed just before 2am.
“I woke up and heard a lot of noise, but there was a high wind and at first I thought it was just stuff blowing around the streets.”
However, when he looked out of the window he saw his boat in flames and raced downstairs.
He added: “I ran downstairs and opened the front door, but I had to shut it again because the heat was so intense.
“I was really lucky because the wind was blowing in the other direction.
“The firemen said if it had not been, then the fire could easily have spread to the house.”
Kevin, who had owned his boat for 10 years and used it regularly to go fishing, remains at a loss as to why his home was targeted.
He said: “It just doesn’t make any sense why someone would do this.
“It wouldn’t be kids at that time in the morning.”
Firefighters from Sunderland Central Station were called to his Coleridge Road home at 2.20am on Friday to tackle the blaze.
Watch manager Don McAneny said shortly after dealing with that fire, the crews were called to nearby Craigavon Road at 3.20am, where a caravan and three cars were alight in a small parking area.
The caravan and a Renault Clio were completely destroyed, while a Nissan Qashqai was badly damaged and a Mini suffered slight damage.
Mr McAneny said it was lucky no-one was injured in the incidents or that anyone was sleeping in the caravan.
He added: “This sort of thing is just mindless.”
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said officers are working with the fire service to investigate the fires, and anyone with information is urged to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference number 151020105.