Arson probe after pensioner plucked from burning house

IPSWICH: An arson probe is underway today after a pensioner was rescued from his burning house as flames engulfed the front door.

The drama unfolded in Landseer Road after a passer-by spotted flames coming from the front garden of the semi-detached house, which is near to the junction of Reynolds Road.

Inside brothers Alfred and Michael Stuteley were asleep upstairs while their 83-year-old father Clifford slept downstairs just metres from the front door.

Michael, 44, said he was woken by a loud bang.

He said: “I thought it was a pile of wood on fire.

“But then I realised the car was on fire, the flames were reaching up to the windows, high above the car.

“It was really scary, we ran outside with buckets of water to try and put the fire out.”

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His 53-year-old brother Alfred added: “By the time we were outside the fire service were here.

“They wouldn’t let us go back for dad, it was awful, we didn’t know if he was ok in there on his own.”

Two crews from Princes Street and another from Colchester Road fire station were sent to the scene at around 12.30am yesterday and discovered the blaze had spread to the front door, completely destroying it and spreading inside to the hallway.

They broke into the house rescuing Mr Stuteley from his bedroom downstairs.

Paramedics then took the pensioner to Ipswich Hospital where he was being treated for smoke inhalation.

Mr Stuteley was kept in hospital overnight for further treatment and he is expected to be allowed home today.

Watch manager Mark Cragg at Princes Street fire station said two firefighters forced their way through the front door into the house to rescue Mr Stuteley.

He said when they entered the house it was heavily smoke logged.

“Smoke is often the most dangerous aspect of a fire,” he said. “This could have been very dangerous if we hadn’t been alerted as soon as we were.

“They did have smoke alarms in the house but because the fire started outside it took a while for them to register.

“It is very important to have working smoke alarms in your homes, it can be the difference between life and death.”

Police officers are today investigating the incident and are appealing for witnesses.

A Suffolk police spokesman said they are trying to trace an unknown offender who they believe got into the vehicle before setting light to it.

Anyone who was in the area at the time and saw the fire or anyone with information is asked to contact Pc Barrie Colquhoun at the Ipswich South West Safer Neighbourhood Team on 01473 613500.

n Did you see what happened or have you been involved in a similar rescue? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail evening starletters@eveningstar.

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