Lone pensioner survives arson

Lone pensioner survives arson

8 January 2020

A WHEELCHAIR-BOUND pensioner feared for his life following an arson attack beside his Newcastle home on Christmas Day.

Eighty two year-old Joe Triner is lucky to be alive after arsonists set fire to a neighbour’s oil tank in Dunwellan Park.

He was rescued after firefighters forced their way into his smoke-filled house shortly after 5.30am and carried him to safety.

The oil tank was completely destroyed in the blaze and Mr Triner’s home and a neighbouring house both suffered smoke damage.

Police are investigating the incident and want anyone with information to get in touch with them.

Mr Triner, who had his leg amputated a few years ago, is currently recovering from his terrifying ordeal at Slieve Dhu residential home.

The pensioner, who was alone in the house, said: “I knew nothing of what was going on until I was awakened by firemen standing at the foot of my bed. 

“They had to force my back door in, before they carried me to safety. I had to leave with the clothes on my back and had no time to pack anything else.

“Before I went to bed I had noticed that the lights were all on in the house where the oil tank was set alight. I woke a few times as I thought I heard noises.”

Mr Triner stayed in a neighbour’s house for several hours before being taken to Slieve Dhu, where his wife, Mary, is a long term resident.

Mr Triner says he is grateful to the firemen and his neighbour. 

“To invite me to stay with her and her family for those few precious hours on Christmas morning was a wonderful gesture and I am very grateful to her,” he remarked.

Mr Triner, who has lived in Dunwellan Park for 43 years, is a retired landscape gardener. He also served in the Merchant Navy for 13 years.

He suffered a further blow over the festive period when his older brother, Brian, died in England on New Year’s Day.

“I’ve had a rotten old start to 2020 but I am looking forward to getting home soon,” he said.

Mr Triner’s step daughter, Annette McCullough, said her step father had not been feeling well prior to the incident and she thanked everyone who helped in the rescue and also the management of Slieve Dhu.

The arson attack has been condemned by local councillor Willie Clarke, who said he was angry that the lives of residents in Dunwellan Park were put in danger. 

He said: “It has been an awful trauma for Joe and his neighbours to have to go through in the middle of Christmas. 

“Everybody should be very concerned about this. I condemn wholeheartedly the thoughtless actions of those arsonists who had little regard for the havoc they caused or the lives that could easily have been lost if the fire was not brought under control in time. 

“I have heard there has been a spate of similar attacks in the area and it is still unclear what the motive could be.”

Cllr Clarke added that he was relieved nobody was injured and said it could have been so much worse. 

He said: “I am relived that Joe is making a great recovery.”