Carshalton estate at heart of CPO plans being targeted by vandals
Pensioners fled their homes fearing for their lives when a blaze believed to be started by arsonists ripped through their back garden.
On Sunday Marian Martell, 65, and her husband Adrian were spending a quiet day at home in Green Wrythe Crescent when their neighbour knocked on their door to warn them about the blaze.
Mrs Martell said: "My neighbour looked panicked. She asked me if I had looked outside and told me our gardens was on fire. They said we had to get out of the house immediately."
The couple had been in the front room of the house when the blaze started, completely unaware of the potential danger they were in.
Mrs Martell, said: "I looked out of the back window and saw a wall of fire across the garden where there used to be a fence. There were two sheds on fire, and it looked like a porch of one of the new houses on The Groveside was on fire. It was absolutely terrifying."
Firefighters attended and put out a fire to a shed, fence and trees.
Homes were evacuated as a precaution.
Residents believe the fire was started by vandals who they say targeting the area because of the number of empty houses.
Sutton Council plans to knock down all the homes on the street and build new social houses.
The council has already moved its tenants out of the street, leaving just homeowners, who face compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) on their properties because they do not want to leave.
They have said thefts and break ins are also rife in the empty houses.
Mrs Martell, said: "When the council started this CPO businesses, they assured us they would keep the empty houses safe from burglars and vandals but they aren't."
A council spokesman said: "It is totally unacceptable that people are frightened in their own homes by the actions of mindless vandals. We are working closely with emergency services to try to ensure that residents are secure in their properties.
"We are looking at means of securing access to the site and clearing any inflammable materials that are in the garden."
Police believe the fire was started deliberately and are investigating. Anyone with information can contact Sutton CID on 020 8649 0747 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111