Arson suspected after blaze tears through block of flats - with people still inside

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“It appears the fire started in a ground floor flat after someone set fire to a sofa,” police said.

Two people had to be rescued from a fierce blaze at a block of flats in Blackpool town centre.

The duo – a man and woman – were rescued from a second floor flat at the back of the four-storey building in Queen Street, at around 9.05pm yesterday.

They were given a check-up by paramedics but escaped serious harm.

Others managed to get out before crews from Blackpool, Bispham, and South Shore fire stations arrived.

Fire investigators are now working to establish a cause, though police say initial findings show a sofa may have been torched deliberately.

“On arrival, crews were faced with a well-developed fire in a ground floor flat and heavy smoke logging to the stairwell,” blue watch crew manager Darren Gregson, from Blackpool, said.

Four firefighters took over from a resident trying to put out the flames himself, using two hose reels and breathing masks to bring the blaze under control, he said.

The ground floor flat has been badly damaged by fire, the ground floor hallway suffered severe smoke damage, while hallways on the block’s remaining three floors also suffered ‘moderate’ smoke damage.

“In response to this incident we are taking the opportunity to remind people about our free home fire safety check service,” Mr Gregson added.

“The fire service always advises occupants to get out, stay out, and call the fire service out, ensuring the door is closed on a fire and all occupants are evacuated.

“No attempts should be made to extinguish a fire that has the potential to endanger life.

“The smoke from a fire has the potential to overcome people and render them unconscious.”

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said officers were called out by the fire service at around 9.10pm.

He said: “The fire is believed to be of a suspicious origin and is being classed as arson.

“It appears the fire started in a ground floor flat after someone set fire to a sofa.”

Police yet to make an arrest in connection with the fire, he added.

To take up the fire service’s offer of a free home fire safety check, call 0800 169 11 25, or visit www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk