Family speak of terror after escaping early morning arson attack at their Sunderland home by climbing out the window

A family of six – including a seven-year-old boy who is in remission from leukaemia – were forced to flee their Sunderland home after an early hours arson attack.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 12:29 pm

Thomas Bulmer and Lyn Brown have only lived at the house in Hendon Close, Hendon, for a few months and believe they were targeted in a case of mistaken identity.

The couple were asleep at the home they share with daughter Tiree, 13, and son Tommy-Joe when an accelerant was poured through the letterbox and set alight in the early hours of Thursday, November 14.

Their elder son Luke, 20, and his girlfriend Ellie Stafford, 19, were also staying over, having visited the house to see Tommy-Joe.

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Lynn Brown and Thomas Bulmer outside their fire-damaged Hendon home

Lyn said was sleeping in the living room because she was due to start work at 4.30am, while the rest of family were asleep upstairs when a substance was poured through the letterbox and set alight.

“It was the bang that woke me up,” said Lyn. “It was massive.

“I opened up the door and it was just smoke. I got out through the window.”

Thomas was also woken by the noise: “I had the bedroom door and window slightly open,” he said.

The rear of the house

“There was a bang and the window blew open. If it had not been open, I think it would have blown out. It was like a sonic boom.”

Thomas got all the children into the main bedroom. Ellie jumped to safety, while Thomas used a knotted sheet to lower Luke and Tommy-Joe to the ground, then waited for the fire brigade to arrive.

“They were shouting for me to jump, but the floor didn’t feel hot and I could hear the sirens,” he said.

Firefighters were able to help him out of the house and also rescued the family’s Jack Russell puppies, Ace and Penny, from the living room.

The couple outside their front door

All six members of the family were taken to hospital for checks but have now been released.

The family has only lived in the house for five months, after Tommy-Joe was diagnosed with leukaemia in December.

The youngster is currently in remission but is still having chemotherapy and the family moved as he was affected by damp in their previous property.

“The boy loves the house,” said Thomas. “He has got mates here and he can play out in the street.”

The house is boarded up

The couple believe they have been targeted in a mistaken assumption that a previous tenant’s family was in the house.

“We have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Thomas.

“I am devastated. There are no words to describe people who would do something like this.”

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “Shortly before 4.10am on Thursday morning, police received a report of a fire at an address on Hendon Close, Sunderland.

“Emergency services attended and the fire was extinguished.

“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the cause of the fire however; it is currently being treated as arson.

“Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police on 101 quoting log 82 14/11/19.”