Children ‘too frightened to sleep’ after arson attack at family home

Dramatic picture captures car on fire in Halstead. Picture: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

Dramatic picture captures car on fire in Halstead. Picture: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE - Credit: ESSEX COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

A mum has revealed the “terrifying” moment her family was woken by a loud explosion on their doorstep – after her son’s car was set alight and engulfed in a ball of flames.

The vehicle fire is being treated by police as arson and has "caused turmoil in the family", says mum Sue Freear.

"The whole street is in shock and all the 'what if's' keep playing over in my head," she said.

The Halstead family were woken at their home in Ravens Avenue at 3.30am to a loud explosion outside, which is understood to have been started deliberately.

Sue says she "couldn't believe her eyes" when she saw her 17-year-old son's first car fully alight and rolling towards the house.

Fire crews were called to the scene and Sue's husband Gary moved other cars away from the vehicle fire - in order to stop it spreading.

Due to the nature of the incident, the car "exploded shooting glass and other vehicle debris".

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Sue said that the car windscreen even flew off and landed three houses away, claiming she had "never seen anything like it".

When the explosion occurred, Sue said the brakes released but as the wheels were turned the car rolled onto the sleepers.

"If the wheels had been straight the car would have been a ball of flames into the front of our home," explained Sue.

Fire crews worked to extinguish the fire by 4.02am and Essex Police have since launched an investigation into the arson attack.

Sue says it is the mental side more than anything which has caused great distress for her family - as her three children aged six, 11 and 17 were all sleeping inside.

"Our youngest is too frightened to go to sleep because she's scared someone will bring fire to our home again," said Sue, aged 43.

"It's just a mindless inconvenience and makes me worry that these people will come back."

Despite the damage caused, Sue says her family are "truly grateful to the firefighters" for stopping it from spreading.

Sue added: "Our neighbours and community have been so caring, sending flowers and messages of support. Halstead isn't a bad place to live, the good far outweighs the bad."

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "We are treating the fire as arson and our enquiries are ongoing.

"Anyone with information is asked to call Braintree police station on 101 quoting crime reference 42/26649/20 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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