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Man arrested on suspicion of arson
Terrified families spoke of their shock after a blaze tore through a Keighley home in a suspected arson attack.
Detectives and fire investigators have launched a probe into the cause of the blaze, which destroyed the mid-terrace house in Richmond Street, Highfield, early yesterday.
Police evacuated neighbours living 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 terraced 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 and they did the rest.”
“It could have spread to our house and our friends and neighbours.”
Initially, firefighters believed the householder, an Asian 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, causing “severe damage”, a fire service spokesman said.
Miss Bentham, who has an eight-year-old daughter and three boys, aged 14, 13 and ten, said: “Luckily my kids were asleep, so they didn’t see it. But me and my partner heard the firefighters saying there was nobody inside.”
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. It was scary.”
Another neighbour, Alec Sobecki, 32, said: “I legged it out of the house just before the fire brigade arrived. There was just flames, cracking and banging, and flames coming out of the top windows.”
Police scenes-of-crimes officers and fire investigators returned to the scene of the blaze later yesterday.
They took photographs of the inside of the building as a Special Constable guarded a police cordon outside the front door.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed that no-one had been injured in the fire.
He said last night: “A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent and remains in police custody. Inquiries are ongoing.”