RESIDENTS in Littlemore say they are living in fear of an arsonist after a series of attacks targeting one street.
Four sheds have been destroyed behind the Cowley Road houses in the past four weeks after what police believe were deliberate, and connected, fires.
Residents said there had been at least 10 blazes in the last three years. The fires all happened in gardens backing on to Long Wall, with neighbouring back gardens hit one after the other in the last five attacks. Chris Wyatt-Lambourne’s has had two sheds burnt, the latest being on Monday, October 1.
The 27-year-old said: “Everyone is angry. We are living in fear. We have had enough. Sooner or later someone is going to get killed.”
The fire was believed to have been started in a wheelie bin which spread to both Mr Wyatt-Lambourne’s shed and a neighbour’s shed.
The family were watching television at about 10pm when they heard a neighbour banging on the window. Mr Wyatt-Lambourne said he knew straight away it was another fire.
Wife Ros, 29, said: “No-one feels safe. No-one is sleeping. “Every noise or creak, you just think they are coming to do it again and who are they going to hit next?”
She said the area was probably a target because it was so dark and open. She added: “The problem is we just don’t know who it is.” Their nine-year-old son Joshua Taphouse’s rabbit was killed in the fire, and bikes, tools, furniture and toys were also destroyed. Mr Wyatt-Lambourne added: “The impact it has had on our nine-year-old is dramatic.
It just destroyed him. “The rabbit was his pride and joy. He was devastated.”
The couple are now preparing an insurance claim of more than £3,000. The most recent incident was a shed blaze that started on Wednesday at about 1.30am.
Before that a shed was burnt to the ground on September 19, a shed and fence were wrecked on February 24, and garden furniture and fencing were damaged in a fire on January 11. Tom Pammenter, 30, also lives on the street.
He said: “People have always been messing around or trying to break into sheds around the back.
“People are angry but everyone feels a bit helpless.” One Long Wall resident, who did not want to be named through fear of being targeted, said: “It does make you wonder how long it will be until someone gets killed.
“I am going to have to empty my shed and take it down because it would burn the house down.”
The neighbourhood police team has been carrying out extra patrols following the latest attack, and is also planning leaflet drops.
Investigating officer Pc Ashley Gardner said: “Although no-one has been injured, all fires such as these have the potential for serious consequences. “It is putting lives at risk.
The sheds are always near people’s homes.” A 27-year-old man was arrested in January 2011 in connection with previous suspected arsons in the area, but was released because of a lack of evidence.
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org