Ipswich: Hunt for arsonist who left a family trapped

IPSWICH: A family have thanked the fire crews who rescued them from a burning building following an early morning arson attack.

The blaze came after a night of trouble in the London Road area. Police were first called out at 7.30pm on Saturday when a group of men allegedly stormed into a property.

A police spokeswoman said: “Officers were called to reports a group of males had gone into a property and that there was shouting. There were then reports of windows being smashed and several men fleeing.”

Officers returned at 3.50am after it was reported two men were outside the property causing problems. They spoke with four men before leaving the scene.

But they were called a third time and arrived just after 5am to find a fire raging in a four-storey building near the junction with Burlington Road. “Officers alerted the fire and ambulance service. Several people – including a family with young children – were rescued from the property,” said the spokeswoman.

The fire started two floors below Gunta Frieberga’s top floor bedsit and smoke crept up the stairwell, putting her family’s lives in danger.

Fire crews helped her and husband Harijs, 35, and children Linda, four and Rinalds, six, flee the building but Mrs Frieberga needed treatment at Ipswich Hospital for the effects of smoke inhalation.

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Mrs Frieberga, 29, said: “I was scared for my family. I would like to thank all the firefighters and the ambulance crew who helped us.”

Barry Thaine, caretaker of the building for owners SG&J Properties, said: “The family have been there for six or seven months. It must have been really scary for them.”

He said the bedsits are mainly occupied by people from the Latvian, Lithuanian and Kurdish communities.

However, it is understood the events were not due to any problems between different nationalities.

He said a man to be aged in his mid 20s lived in the bedsit where the fire started, which was gutted by the blaze. He and possibly a second man were there at the time of the fire.

It has been confirmed that the fire is being treated as suspicious and police are now hunting for the arsonist.

They are also increasing patrols in a bid to reassure the communtiy.

Anyone who was in the London Road/Burlington Road area, between 7pm on Saturday and 5am yesterday is asked to call 01473 613500.

A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault in relation to the incident which occurred just after 7.30pm. He was released on police bail to return to Ipswich police station at 1pm Friday March 25 pending further enquiries.