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Neighbours flee after arsonists torch three houses in Burnley
2:07pm Monday 10th September 2012 in Burnley
Luke Davis, who lives three doors away, grabbed his daughter Sienna, stepson Callum, and girlfriend, and ran into the street
NEIGHBOURS fled after three houses were destroyed in an arson attack.
The early morning blaze ripped through the unoccupied mid ter-race home in Waterbarn Street, Burnley, causing the roof to completely collapse before spreading to the roof space of two neighbouring houses.
Residents in nearby properties were forced to evacuate around 5.15am yesterday.
Lining the streets in their pyjamas, residents watched as 14 firefighters spent more than four and a half hours tackling the blaze.
Police said the fire was being treated as arson.
Luke Davis, 21, lives three doors from the blaze, with his girlfriend Vicky, his two-year-old daughter Sienna and 14-year-old stepson Callum.
He said: “I was woken up by someone banging on the window.
“When I came to the door I could see thick black smoke pouring from the roof of a house just two doors down. I ran back inside and grabbed my daughter, stepson and girlfriend and just watched on as the fire got worse.
“When we got in the street our neighbours were all standing outside in their pyjamas.
“To be honest I didn’t think it was too bad until the roof of the first property caved in. At that point we realised there wasn’t much else we could do and went to stay at my mum’s house around the corner.
“We were only allowed back into the house around 10am and it stinks of smoke.”
Neighbours said the three properties affected were unoccupied but they were mid-way through renovations before being put back on the market.
As well as two fire pumps, an aerial ladder platform was used.
The whole bottom end of Waterbarn Street leading to Barden Lane was cordoned off.
Burnley Council’s building control department was due to visit the properties yesterday afternoon as the chimneys and roof spaces were thought to be structurally unsafe.
Sylvia Holmes, 50, of Waterbarn Street, said: “I woke up to lots of flashing lights and huge flames rising from the house across the way.
“I couldn’t believe how bad it was.
“I was really concerned someone was in the house when I saw the ambulances but I have since learned the houses were empty, thank God.
“I find it really hard to believe someone could set fire to property and cause this much damage on purpose.”
A landlord with properties in the street said he was not surprised the fire was being treated by police as deliberate.
He said: “I rent out many properties near here and there has been problems with arson.
“I think it’s a real problem. Luckily, my house has not been affected this time.”
An investigation is now underway by fire investigators and police to establish the cause of the fire.
A police spokesman said: “About 5.15am yesterday morning we received reports from fire and rescue they were attending a fire in Waterbarn Street.
“The properties were empty and the fire was substantial spreading to adjacent buildings.
“An investigation has now been launched by CID who are treating the incident as arson.”
Anyone with information about the fire should call police on 101.