Granddad rescued children while handyman tackled blaze after 'petrol' thrown on front door and set alight in Montgomery Road, Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 17:08 29 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:11 29 December 2016
A heroic handyman has told of the dramatic moment he ran to battle a fire in the doorway of a neighbour's house following a suspected arson attack in Ipswich on Wednesday night.
Two young children – an 11-month-old boy and a four-year-old girl were in the house in Montogomery Road alongside their father and grandfather when the door erupted into a “ball of fire” at around 7.25pm.
The grandfather managed to rescue the children and escape into the garden for safety alongside the father, before nearby neighbour Daniel Browne jumped into action.
“Me and my partner came back from my brother’s and just as we pulled up my partner saw there were flames in the doorway of the neighbour’s house,” the 25-year-old said.
“I keep a fire extinguisher in the van just in case of an engine fire so I just grabbed that, ran down there and put out what I could.
“At first I thought the whole downstairs was on fire but as I went through I found it wasn’t,” he added.
The resourceful handyman had put out the flames when two fire engines from Princes Street arrived, with firefighters helping to clear the house of smoke.
Police yesterday remained outside the property where they had begun an investigation into a suspected arson with intent to endanger life.
A member of the family said they believed an accelerant such as petrol was use to douse the door before it was set alight.
Nobody was hurt during the fire, although investigating officers believe the suspect may have suffered some burn injuries.
“That was my main concern when I put the front door out,” Mr Browne said. “There was so much shouting but I asked if there were any kids in there.
“It feels like such a long time in that situation, but I was probably only in there for 10 seconds or so.
“I couldn’t breathe while I was inside because of the burning plastic so I put my jumper around my face – I was shaking for a while afterwards.”
On Wednesday night the family stayed with a neighbour while police began an investigation.
Officers were yesterday speaking to the homeowners, carried out door-to-door enquiries and studied CCTV footage, a Suffolk Constabulary spokeswoman said.
The motive for the suspected attack remains unknown, and police were last night unable to confirm whether any attackers were known to the family.
A police spokeswoman added: “It’s thought the person or persons involved may have sustained some burn injuries and police are asking anyone who may have seen anything in the area around 7pm – 7.30pm yesterday, or anyone with information, to come forward.”
A Suffolk Fire and Rescue service spokesman said that two appliances from Princes Street attended to clear the heavily smoke-logged house, and were assisting police in the investigation.
The family yesterday thanked the brave efforts of Mr Browne, who added: “I hope that anyone else would do that if it was my house.
“I don’t think of [the praise] – if someone else called at that exact time I would hope they would do the same thing.”
Anyone who witnessed the attack or has any relevant information should call investigating officers on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.