A blaze that killed two cats at a Blackpool flat was started deliberately, detectives have confirmed.
Devastated Phil Smith got a call to say his Ashton Road flat was on fire and returned to find one, Gizmo, dead and the other missing.
It could have been a lot worse – it could have taken the whole building. We are determined to find out who is responsible for this crime.Det Sgt Rick Bartlett
In the days that followed he found his other beloved pet, Tiger, had also perished among the flames.
He fears he is being unfairly targeted after discovering someone had been spreading malicious rumours about him.
“It must have been going on for the last 12 months,” he said. “I have had my windows done in, I have had two push bikes stolen and a motorcycle taken. It’s not right at all.”
He has been forced to find alternative accommodation following the blaze, at around 7.20am on January 5, that left his flat badly damaged.
Police say a naked flame started the fire but a suspect has yet to be identified. Mr Smith, 67, added: “I’ve just had enough. I want to make sure someone gets caught for it.
“The people in the upstairs flat could have died in it as well.”
And he paid tribute to his cats, revealing neighbours had lef ttouching messages saying they miss seeing Tiger sitting in the window.
“She used to love watching people go by,” he added.
Det Sgt Rick Bartlett, of Blackpool CID, said: “The victim has lost the majority of his possessions and tragically his two cats in the fire.
“It could have been a lot worse – it could have taken the whole building. We are determined to find out who is responsible for this crime.”
CCTV footage shows many people in the area at the time and police are urging anyone who saw anything suspicious to get in touch by calling 101.