A three-year-old tot and her family had to escape from their blazing home after a campaign of harrassment, threats and vandalism ended in an arson attack.
The choking toddler and her mother, father, sister, 11, and brother 18, had to escape from a back door on Kennington Road, Fulwood - a leafy suburban street, after revenge thirsty arsonists firebombed two cars on their driveway.
The flames spread to the semi detached house with such intensity they melted window frames.
The ferocious explosion woke the young family and as smoke poured into the house, the terrified parents had to find their way out of a back door with the youngsters.
Several engines attended the property after horrified neighbours raised the alarm.
Four men have pleaded guilty to their parts in the ordeal, which police say could have easily been fatal.
Mohammed Akubat, 22, of St Paul’s Road, Preston, Hasib Waheed, 21, of Brixton Road, Frenchwood, Preston, Jalil Mohammed, 18, of Fishwick Parade, Preston, and Naveed Ahmed, 26,of Franklands Drive, Ribbleton, Preston, all admitted arson with intent to endanger life at Preston Crown Court.
Detectives said the family’s ordeal, which started after a friendship turned sour in a row over money, reached a head in June last year.
Det Sgt John Crichton, of Preston CID, said: “On CCTV, Ahmed and Waheed could be seen silhouetted against the explosion, reeling back as they are nearly caught in it.”
“The family were in danger of being overcome by smoke.
“It was the opinion of attending fire officers that had any of the windows broken, the soft furnishings would have combusted, which would have endangered lives of those within the house.”
Police said on June 3, 2013 one defendant sent text messages threatening harm to the family.
The next day, at 4.30am windows were smashed in the family’s cars on their driveway.
On June 6 four men in a vehicle belonging to one of the defendants was captured on CCTV at the Key Filling Station on Watling Street Road, with one filling a can of petrol.
At 3.16am the same white car was captured on CCTV footage in Kennington Road travelling slowly past the family’s home and parking in nearby Bedford Road.
A home CCTV camera caught Ahmed, who was carrying a black petrol container, and Waheed walking onto Kennington Road a minute later, moments before the explosion.
The men will appear at Preston Crown Court on April 1.