25 flee in arson drama

MORE than 25 terrified residents were woken in their beds and evacuated from their homes in the early hours today as a fire threatened to engulf a block of bungalows in South Yorkshire.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 8th September 2007, 11:42 am
Updated Saturday, 8th September 2007, 11:55 am

The fire, believed to have been started deliberately in an empty property, was spreading through the roof space which joins the properties in Lawrence Drive, Swinton, Rotherham.

Almost 30 firefighters from four fire stations battled to prevent the flames spreading, and brought in a hydraulic lift and specialist equipment to cut through the roof and roof joists.

Fire broke out at number 5 Lawrence Drive, on the Patio Estate, just before 3am today.

The occupants of numbers seven, nine and 11 Lawrence Drive were all evacuated from their homes, along with residents in numbers 19, 21, 23 and 25 on the level below.

Most Popular

    Donna Patton and her husband Anthony, both 27, and their three children Luke, aged five, Ewan, three, and 10-month-old Jack, were told to get out of their home shortly after 3am.

    Donna said: "It was a complete nightmare. Anthony works in a bakery and had just come in from work and was watching TV when we heard the fire engines arriving.

    "Smoke started to pour into our home and the firemen got us and our three kids out."

    Tracy Oldham, 40, her partner Brian, and her four children aged 13, eight, two, and 12 months, live in a bungalow adjoining number 5 where the fire started.

    They spent all night in friends' homes and standing on the pavement watching the firefighters' efforts.

    She said: "We have been warning the council for a long time these homes are deathtraps.

    "We have been having lots of problems with gangs of teenagers hanging around. They have been setting fire to wheelie bins and they torched a mattress just outside my back door only a week ago.

    "This area is becoming dangerous. How can it be right that one minute you're in bed and the next there are firemen and policemen knocking on your door saying, 'Get out! Your house might burn down'."

    Dawn Ashworth, 40, was evacuated with her partner and 14-year-old son.

    "We have always been worried about the yobs hanging around," she said. "Number five, where the fire started, has only been empty for one week but it only took one week for the yobs to start a fire.

    "If someone hadn't spotted it and called out the firemen, and they hadn't woken us all up, this entire block could have gone up."

    What do you think? Post your comments below.