Friends tell of flat blaze terror

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Four friends have today told of their terror after being forced to smash through a first floor window to escape a suspected arson attack on their flat.

Jamie Rimmer, 32, Dawne Mair, 20, Luke Evans, 26 and Jessica Emille, 21, had to clamber onto a one metre wide ledge and wait for firefighters to arrive after a blaze started under a staircase behind the home - the only route in and out of the property.

Mr Evans used a hammer to break the glass window and help the four - as well as pet dogs Gina and Lily - escape the fire on Central Drive.

The group was rescued from the ledge and the fire put out by crews from Blackpool and South Shore fire stations, but its cause is now being treated as suspicious and under investigation by police.

Today the four told The Gazette about the shocking incident, revealing they were left “petrified” as the blaze blocked their only escape route.

Mr Evans said: “I could see the flames coming through the door. We knew there was no way to get out. Our only thought was to get out of the property.

“Dawne and Jessica were petrified. We did not think of anything else – it was just a case of getting the girls and dogs out.

“We went to the window and tried throwing things at it to break it. We ended up hitting it with a hammer – there were bits of glass hanging down everywhere.”

Miss Emille said: “We went to bed and I was woken up by a loud bang. I went to the door and opened it and all I could see was flames. The fire was so intense - it was so hot.

“I slammed the door shut - I just knew we had to get out. It was awful - it was so scary. I could not wait to get out of there.”

Mr Rimmer added: “We got the girls out first, then the dogs, then ourselves. We walked along the ledge and moved above the Indian restaurant next door - as far from the fire as possible.”

Miss Mair said: “I remember Jessica screaming there was a fire. We didn’t think twice and tried to escape. It was so scary.”

As the four waited on the ledge with their two dogs, firefighters arrived to rescue the group from the ledge using a ladder. Two crews from Blackpool Fire Station and one from South Shore Station used breathing apparatus and hose reels to extinguish the fire.

Firefighters were at the scene for just under two hours bringing the incident under control, which left doors, furniture and a bed to the rear of the property severely damaged.

Today neighbours revealed their shock at the incident.

Florence Ashworth, 83, of Montrose Avenue, said: “I am glad it was not my place. It could have been a lot worse. It could have spread across and damaged my property.

“I have lived here for 28 years and never known anything like this.

Samuel Whiggam. 67, also of Montrose Avenue added: “I just heard a loud bang. It is quite scary to think this could go on near where you live.”

A spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue said: “The fire is being treated as suspicious and police and fire investigations are continuing.”

Det Sgt Simon Pritchard, of Blackpool CID, revealed police had arrested a 47-year-old man from Blackpool after the incident.