'Soul-destroying' - Business ravaged by two arson attacks in two weeks
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A woman whose salon was ravaged by two arson attacks in just over two weeks has spoken of her "devastation" at the heartless acts.
Michelle Gallagher's Sun Lounge tanning salon on Norwich's Hall Road was targeted on July 28 and again on August 11 — with a family living upstairs needing to quickly evacuate the building before the fire took hold.
On both occasions, the arsonist smashed either a window or door to gain entry, poured accelerant into the premises and set the liquid ablaze.
"It's absolutely soul-destroying", the 42-year-old said. "My seven-year-old daughter Nevaeh is so paranoid about me coming to work now because she thinks I might not come home."
The first arson attack happened between 3 and 4am. A passer-by noticed the flames and alerted the family upstairs who called the fire brigade.
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Disaster was also averted the second time by another passer-by who called the emergency services at 3.45am when he spotted smoke coming from the building.
Ms Gallagher, who is a single mum, said the worst part wasn't paying over £1000 for redecoration, but that someone had kicked her while she was down.
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"We only re-opened in April, and have struggled so much over the pandemic", she said.
"That someone would target us knowing how much businesses have suffered is really upsetting."
Ms Gallagher, whose business has been going for 10 years, said decorators were coming at the weekend and that the salon should be back to normal by next week.
But she said the insurance company wouldn't be paying out for the second attack, and that she'd have to foot the bill herself.
"It has left me on the verge of a nervous breakdown", she said.
"And it's so heart-breaking for the family upstairs. They don't feel safe here anymore."
Because of the extensive smoke damage, staff have been left ill and forced to take time off work.
But luckily, Ms Gallagher said her "wonderfully loyal" customer base had been very understanding about the resultingly haphazard opening hours.
"Today, a customer is helping me out because I've got no staff", she said. "They're really keeping me going."
In a stark warning to the arsonists, Ms Gallagher said she wouldn't stand for anyone "trying to destroy her livelihood" or the lives of the tenants who live above her salon.
"I have worked so hard for this and I'm not going anywhere", she said.