Hunt for men after blaze

POLICE are today trying to trace a group of young men seen in the area where a fire was started which spread to a house where two men were sleeping.Michael Tull and his lodger and their pet dogs escaped from the blazing property in Coronation Drive, Felixstowe, after being woken by a passer-by who repeatedly banged on their front door.

THREE years after stealing his motorbike, a Felixstowe man returned to the scene of his crime to dramatically rescue his victim from a burning house.

Robert Ward, 20, who was given a suspended sentence for the theft, woke Michael Tull and his lodger after their house was set alight in an arson attack on Thursday night.

Mr Ward, of Butley Road, Felixstowe, said: "I was coming up the road on the bus and saw the fire, so I got off and just did what I had to do and rescued them. It was very, very scary."

The blaze began when someone set light to a shed in the back garden of the semi-detached property in Coronation Drive, Felixstowe, on the corner of Charles Street.

Flames ripped through the outhouse and spread to the adjoining house, catching guttering and a gas pipe.

Windows in the kitchen door blew out and the fire started to spread inside the property, causing damage in the kitchen and smoke logging to the building.

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Mr Ward, who woke both men by banging repeatedly on the front door, said: "I went through the front door and a man was standing there and asked me what was happening to his home.

"He ran upstairs for his dog so I chased him up the steps and told him to grab the dog. I asked him if anyone else was in the house and he said there was someone called Steve in the bedroom at the front of the house.

"I started knocking and banging. The man was standing there naked and I said we have got to get you out of here.

"You couldn't see three feet in front of you. When I came out I was as black as the Ace of Spades.

"In all, I went in and out four times to rescue the first man, a dog, another man and another dog."

He then made a desperate attempt in vain to get to the main gas switch, but was forced to leave the house due to the encroaching flames.Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the blaze and are treating it as "arson with intent to endanger life".

A spokeswoman said inquiries were continuing today but officers were keen to interview a group of men aged 18 to 20 who were seen in the area around the time of the fire.

Mr Tull, who has lived at the house, originally his parents' home, since 1954 said he was lucky to be alive.

Two fire crews from Felixstowe attended and it took more than an hour to put out and then thoroughly check the house.

Mr Ward added: "When everything calmed down I felt dizzy. The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance."

Officers have also repeated their appeal for anyone with information or who saw anything suspicious to contact them.

Anyone with information about the blaze is asked to call Felixstowe police on 01473 613500.