Firefighters saved the lives of four people – including two children – after a suspected arson attack at a flat in Dunstable in the early hours of Saturday morning (August 31).
The fire started shortly after 1am when a child’s buggy was set alight outside the front door of the first-floor flat in Victoria Street, blocking the only exit route for the occupants and their next-door neighbour.
A mother and her two children were forced to seek refuge on a balcony. The fire service used a nine-metre ladder to help them down.
Another adult in the adjacent flat also required assistance.
Susan – the witness who phoned the emergency services – told the Gazette: “My granddaughter saw someone peeking through her window at the front of the building.
“I came out of our flat with a kitchen knife. I looked left, then right. I didn’t see anyone but I saw smoke billowing in the stairwell.
“I was screaming, everyone was. I rang the fire service and made sure the kids were safe.”
Two fire crews attended the scene and used four sets of breathing apparatus, three hose reels, one covering jet, and one thermal imaging camera to tackle the blaze.
Paramedics administered first aid to the four people at the scene but no one was seriously hurt.
Susan – who lives on the ground floor of the building – said the offender did something very unusual before fleeing the scene. She said: “I had my washing on the line outside and they took it off and folded it neatly over the chair by my front door.
“I don’t know if they were going to set fire to my door too, but the strange thing is the way they folded my laundry so neatly.”
The fire was declared extinguished at 2.19am.
About 80 per cent of the stairwell and landing has been left smoke damaged.
The mother and her two children are believed to be staying with family in Houghton Regis.
A police forensics team are currently investigating the incident, and treating it as suspected arson.
If you have any information call Beds Police on the non-emergency number 101.