A COUPLE and their nine-year-old son narrowly cheated death when an arsonist poured petrol through their front door and threw in a lit match.
It was only good fortune nobody was hurt in the blaze that engulfed the door and spread up the stairs at Paul and Helen Taylor’s house on Sicey Lane, Shiregreen, Sheffield.
Luckily, when the arsonist struck, Paul aged 38, had left for work and Helen, 33, was out taking their son Kieran to school.
But every room in the house was covered in a thick, greasy layer of soot and smoke, leaving the uninsured couple with a mammoth bill to make their home of 13 years habitable again.
“The firemen said if the arsonist had done it at night we would have all been dead,” said mechanic Paul. “We were very lucky we weren’t in.”
Paul pushed past fire officers to try to enter the burning building, to rescue his beloved nine-month-old German Shepherd dog Ruby.
He said: “When I rushed back from work and saw the flames the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh God, the dog’s still in the house’.
“I could see Helen outside and I knew Kieran was at school, but I knew Ruby was locked in.
“I got in the door and was going up the stairs and the fire chief just grabbed the back of my trousers and hauled me back outside.
“I apologised to him later.
“When the firemen carried Ruby out I thought she was dead. But luckily it turned out she had been hiding in the upstairs bedroom and was fine.”
Paul and Helen think the arsonist who smashed the glass in their front door and poured petrol through targeted the wrong house, in a case of mistaken identity.
“We’ve never had any trouble like this, no threats, nothing like this at all,” said Paul.
Helen, a shop assistant, added: “When I saw the door I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe someone could try to burn down our house.”
Detectives investigating the arson have asked anyone who saw suspicious behaviour in the Shiregreen area at around 9am on Friday to get in touch.
The couple did not have insurance and are now facing an expensive bill to repair the damage, clean the soot, strip off the wallpaper and redecorate.
Over the weekend an army of friends and family started the massive task of tackling the extensive damage.
“Luckily we’ve got a lot of support,” said Paul. “The stairs and hall were only redecorated in October, but I was due to start on the lounge so I had already bought the paint.
“I know a lot of people in trades and our family are helping out.
“It’s going to be a big job, but we’ll get there.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman urged anyone with information to call 0114 220 2020, quoting incident 228 of Friday June 10, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.