Arson accused was married to a firefighter

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A WOMAN accused of starting a blaze in her flat told a jury her ex-husband is a firefighter and she is very concerned about fire safety.

Melissa Sinden is alleged to have set fire to curtains as she tried to remove cotton snags caused by her cat, Dave.

“It’s something I’ve always done and never had any issues with it,” Ms Sinden told Durham Crown Court.

“My ex-husband is a firefighter, and when I moved into the flat I asked for the local fire safety officer to visit.

“The smoke alarms were hanging off the ceiling and they very kindly replaced them.

“At the time of the fire, I was in the process of cleaning and decorating the flat because it was in a state when I moved in.”

The court heard Sinden went to Sainsbury’s a few hours before the fire and bought cleaning materials and two bottles of wine.

About three hours later, a passer-by called the fire brigade after he saw flames behind the front window of the flat, above Cheveley Park shops in Belmont, Durham City.

There is no record of Sinden calling the fire brigade.

She had to be forcefully removed from the burning flat by firefighters as she tried to find her cat.

Ms Sinden told the jury there was no fire when she left the room after burning off the snags.

“I took a bag of rubbish down the hall,” she said.

“I turned around and could see a glow and quite a lot of smoke coming from the living room,

“I just freaked out, it was not something I’d experienced before.”

Ms Sinden had drunk one of the bottles of wine, and opened the second one.

“I don’t believe the wine had any impact,” she said. “I took it over a few hours.

“In hindsight, what I did with the curtains was stupid, but it was not reckless.”

Sinden, 41, formerly of The Links, Cheveley Park, Belmont, denies arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered on March 25.

The court heard her cat was not seen on the night of the fire, but was found in the flat a few days later.

l Proceeding.