Norwich man rescues sleeping neighbours as fire threatened house

Owen Benton outside the properties affected by the fire he came across while returning home.PHOTO BY

Owen Benton outside the properties affected by the fire he came across while returning home.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A Norwich man saved his sleeping neighbours when flames from a suspected arson attack on a garden shed threatened to spread to nearby homes.

Owen Benton was walking home from the pub when he noticed smoke billowing out of his neighbours' garden at the junction of Waterloo Road and Alma Terrace.

The 37-year-old train driver, who lives on Waterloo Road, said: 'I saw the smoke and by the time I'd rung the fire brigade the shed was roasting away. The flames were the height of the house and the paint on the house next door was bubbling.'

Danny Smith, 44, and Richard Hook, 46, were asleep, completely unaware of the flames that were eating away at the external paintwork and windowsills.

Mr Smith said: 'It was only when I came down after hearing Mr Benton rapping on the door that we noticed the fire. A gas cylinder in the shed exploded, which blew out the upstairs and downstairs windows.'

Mr Benton's quick response had firefighters on their way, while he saw to the task of waking the neighbours.

He said: 'I banged on the door of the house on Alma Terrace then ran around to wake the family on Waterloo Road. You wouldn't have thought a shed would give off that much heat. It's a credit to the fire brigade - they were super fast'.

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Mr Smith said: 'Thanks to Mr Benton we caught the fire in time and I put it out with water from the kitchen. I'm still waking at night because of it.'

Following the fire, Mr Smith spent four hours clearing up the broken glass in his living room.

Three crews responded to Mr Benton's call from stations in Sprowston, North Earlham and Carrow at 1am on April 27.

Martin Barsby, spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said hose reel jets were used and the police were informed.

The response time was just three minutes and the blaze was extinguished after 30 minutes.

A spokesman for Norfolk Police said: 'An 18 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson. He has been released on bail, which is due to be answered on June 7.'