A HEAVILY-PREGNANT woman and her two children were rescued from their smoke-filled home by firefighters after a blaze broke out in their hallway.
The 27-year-old woman and her children - a boy and a girl - were hanging out of an upstairs bedroom when firefighters arrived at their smoke-filled home in Berners Road, Arbourthorne, in the early hours of yesterday.
Firefighters smashed their way through her front door and extinguished the flames in the hall before making their way through the smoke to reach the terrified family upstairs.
At the same time, firefighters put a ladder up to the bedroom window to reach the trapped trio.
The fire is being treated as suspicious and an investigation is now under way to establish exactly what started it.
Station manager Dick Hutton, based at Central fire station, said it was fortunate the mother noticed the smoke.
“The family was hanging out of an upstairs bedroom, so crews forced their way into the house and put out the flames in the hall before going upstairs to rescue them,” he said. “It must have been a terrifying experience.
“We could easily have been dealing with three fatalities because there wasn’t a working smoke alarm.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of having a fitted and working alarm, which is a service we provide.”
Neighbours said they heard screaming from the smoke-filled property. Nicola Burgess, aged 40, who lives next door, said: “We were in bed, but my kids heard all the noise outside and woke me up - they said they had heard the kids next door screaming.
“The firefighters were already there by this point and luckily they had all got out safely. My neighbour is heavily pregnant, so I am just glad she and the kids are okay.”
Other neighbours said there was a disturbance at the house about a week ago, to which police were called, and they fear the fire may be connected.
Marie Spender, 67, said: “I saw firefighters carrying the children out and then their pregnant mum followed them out. If the fire was deliberate they are very lucky not to have died. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Police officers carried out door-to-door inquiries yesterday.
Anyone with information should call 101.