BARKING dogs have been credited with saving the life of a Wirral man after his late wife’s car was torched in a suspected arson attack as he watched television in bed.
Sixty-year-old Dave Strong was catching up on the day’s events in the bedroom of his Waterpark Road home when he heard what he believed to be fireworks nearby, shortly after 10pm on Wednesday.
It was only when the his three dogs – left to him by his wife Lyn - began howling minutes later that he realised something more serious was happening just a few metres away.
“It sounded like the front door was being kicked in,” explained Dave, whose wife died from cancer 15 months ago.
“Lyn’s dogs started howling and I thought, ‘That’s not fireworks’ so I got up and went over to the bedroom door and looked across the landing and I could see the flames glowing on next door’s property.
“I ran to the window and saw Lyn’s car was on fire..”
After moving his own Lexus away from the flames, Dave turned to his late wife’s Peugeot 207 CC – which the managing director of Birkenhead-based DES Construction North West Ltd bought for Lyn as a present four-years-ago.
He said: “I got the hosepipe out and tried to put it out with no effect and stood here trying to put it out with my hosepipe bare skinned, with just my jeans on - a totally dangeorous thing to do - and as I say, without success."
"I didn’t think I was going to survive it and the hosepipe wasn’t making any difference.
“When the fire brigade arrived I just stood back and let them deal with it and this is what was left."
Firefighters tackled the blaze for close to 40 minutes but it was too late, the car had been destroyed.
“It is soul-destroying to look at,” said father-of-four Dave, who was married to Lyn for 41 years.
"The brake pedal has gone, the steering wheel has gone - it's a mess.
“If it was my car, I would get another one but it’s the sentimental value of it that’s really distressing.”
Dave is now offering a £1,000 reward to anyone who can help bring those responsible to justice.
He said: "I just want to get the people that did this. Anyone that has any information that leads to a conviction, I’ll give £1,000 and it will be worth every penny because it was Lyn’s car – the cushion she used to prop herself up was still in it.
“It was a brand new car – Lyn only did 117 miles in it because she couldn’t drive it because of the cancer.
“If she was here, Lyn would say it’s just a car, get another one. She would be more upset that someone had interfered with something of hers, she wouldn’t be bothered about the car.”
Dave had decided not to sell the car after Lyn’s death despite receiving several offers but instead planned to pass it down to his granddaughter Holly, who is hoping to attend university in Preston.
“That has been taken out of my hands now,” he said.
“I just don’t understand why somebody would do this – I haven’t got an enemy in the world."
Dave Strong bought the Peugeot 207 CC for his late wife Lyn four-years-ago.
Merseyside Police say they are now investigating the full circumstances surrounding the incident, which they are currently treating as a suspected arson attack.
“It was the dogs howling that made me realise it wasn’t fireworks,” added Dave.
“They were Lyn’s dogs, I’m not an animal lover myself but I’ll look after them until they die.
“Lyn would not have wanted anything less."
Anyone with information should call Merseyside Police on 0151 777 2265, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.