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‘Terrified’ residents tell of fire
Terrified families have spoken of their shock after a blaze tore through a Keighley home following a suspected arson attack.
Detectives and fire investigators launched a probe into the cause of the blaze, which destroyed the mid-terrace house in Richmond Street, Highfield, early on Tuesday.
Police evacuated neighbours from their homes on either side of the burning house – including a family of eight – after the heat of the flames caused windows to smash and thick black smoke to billow out of the building.
Mother-of-four Vickie Bentham was woken by smoke pouring from the house, three doors away from her home.
“It was terrifying,” said the 33-year-old. “I woke and there was smoke billowing out of the house. The man over the road tried to kick the door in but then the fire brigade arrived.”
Initially, firefighters believed the householder – a man who lives alone – had been inside and called an ambulance and police after the blaze started at about 2.30am.
Crews from Keighley and Bingley spent about two hours tacking the fire as it tore through the house.
Miss Bentham, who has an eight-year-old daughter and three boys, aged 14, 13 and 10, added: “Luckily, my kids were asleep, so they didn’t see it but me and my partner heard the firefighters saying there was nobody inside. I thought thank god for that because I saw the stretcher and ambulance outside.”
Next door neighbour, Nafisa Zafar, said eight members of her family had been evacuated.
“We were inside and all you could smell was smoke,” she said. “Then we heard the loud smash and it looked like there was a TV on the floor outside.
“It was terrifying. We didn’t know the impact the fire had had until we went outside.”
Another neighbour, Alec Sobecki, 32, said: “I legged it out of the house just before the fire brigade arrived. There was a cracking and banging and flames coming out of the top windows. It was about 5am when police left.”
Police scenes of crime officers wearing white protective suits, and fire investigators, returned to the scene of the fire later in the day.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed no-one had been injured in the fire.
He added that a 29-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent and released on police bail pending further inquiries.