A TERRIFIED family of six – including three young children and a newborn baby – were trapped in their Sheffield home by flames and smoke after an arsonist started a blaze, blocking their only way out.
The family, three children aged under six and one just a few months old, were unable to escape from their flat after discovering the fire outside their only exit.
Their flat, above the Kashmir Grill on Firth Park Road, Sheffield, started to fill with thick smoke and there was no way out.
A bin for commercial waste had been set alight outside the steps leading to the family’s rented flat.
Firefighters doused the blaze, discovered at 12.40am yesterday, while colleagues climbed the steps to reach the family until it was safe to lead them out.
The four youngsters were taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital after inhaling smoke and were released yesterday.
A police investigation is underway to trace the culprit, who has been condemned for putting lives at risk.
Group manager Ade Robinson, who led a fire service investigation into the blaze, said: “The family in the flat woke to find their home filling with smoke and had no idea where it was coming from so they took refuge in an upstairs bedroom where they opened a window so they could breathe.
“Sometimes fires are started deliberately by people who do not realise the consequences of their actions.
“If you start a fire close to a property the flames are going to go up that building and find their way inside followed by the smoke – and it is the smoke that kills.
“On this occasion the family realised there was smoke in their flat – this could have been a lot worse.
“People need to think about their actions because these kind of incidents are all too common.
“There was one in Rotherham on Monday where a bin was set alight next to a supermarket which was connected to over 20 flats – there are a lot of lives in those flats.”
Businessmen Aftab Ahmed, 50, who has run Usman’s Supermarket for eight years, said: “I arrived at 9am and saw the shops all taped off by police and had no idea what had happened.
“I soon learned that a bin full of cardboard had been set alight and that the young family, with children, had been unable to get out of their flat.
“We all feel shocked and are saddened that someone would carry out such an act and are just grateful that nothing more serious happened to the young family – it could have been much worse.
“Whoever did this put lives at risk.”
Ahmed Haris, 36, who runs Nile Express Grocery, said: “When I arrived and saw all the police I was worried that something really serious had happened.
“This was bad enough but I was really worried that somebody might have been hurt.
“I am disappointed that somebody would do this.”
Mohammed Akram, 60, who has run the Eastern Eye restaurant for 30 years, said: “We are all shocked.
“People and businesses were put at risk by this fire. It feels bad that somebody would do this.”
n Anyone with information about the blaze should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.