A HOUSE was ripped apart by fire just 48 hours before a burning newspaper was pushed through the letterbox of a witness to the blaze.
Police are investigating the week's worrying events in Bath Road, and say both incidents are suspicious.
Firefighters rushed to a fire at number 460 Bath Road, at 4.45am last Friday. The home was well alight when they arrived, and the violent blaze took the fire crews more than three hours to extinguish. The Tudor-style house has been left in ruins.
The owner, squash expert Ian McKenzie, was abroad at the time and returned only yesterday (Tuesday).
The fire was witnessed by Derek Potter, 69, who lives a few doors away at number 470. Little more than 48 hours later, he too found himself victim of an attack.
"On Sunday morning at 8am, I was making myself a cup of tea when a burning newspaper was shoved through my letterbox," he said. "I phoned the fire brigade straight away, although luckily I was able to put the fire out myself. There was smoke everywhere but only minor damage. I don't know if the police have a suspect or not but what has happened is terrible."
Number 460 was further damaged during the weekend by the appalling weather.
Mr Potter said: "The house has no roof and the middle floor has gone. It is completely gutted, as is the owner. I had to phone him to tell him what happened. How do you do that? It was dreadful. The police had already broken the news but I don't think he realised just how strong the fire was."
Mr McKenzie has published many books and guides about how to be successful in the sport of squash.
Mr Potter said: "He has lived in the house for 28 years and runs his business from there. He would have lost everything."
The police are investigating both the inferno at 460 and the later attack on Mr Potter's property, and have launched a criminal investigation.
Detective Constable Lee Somerville, of Hillingdon police, said: "We are appealing for witnesses who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area around the time the fires occurred or who may have witnessed what happened."
* Call Uxbridge CID on 020 8246 1447 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.