Student homes evacuated in suspected arson attack
Students had to be evacuated from their homes after fire engulfed a property in a suspected arson attack.
The Fire service was called to the address in Hartley Crescent in Woodhouse just before 9pm on Tuesday evening.
It is understood that the fire brigade arrived to find the first floor room at the front of the house ablaze, and searched the property to ensure there were no people trapped inside. Residents in neighbouring homes were also asked to evacuate as a precaution.
A police spokesperson told Leeds Student that they are investigating the incident as a possible arson attack. A 31-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident, but has since been released on police bail pending further enquiries.
One of the neighbours, Mia Ruffo who studies at the University, told Leeds Student what happened: “I was taking a nap with my boyfriend and woke up to smell burning plastic. I realised that my room was starting to get really smoky and there was a vent [in the wall] and so all the smoke from next door was filling up the house… I thought our wall was on fire so I started panicking. I ran outside and the house next door was ablaze and windows were shattering, it was a pretty intense fire”.
She said that one of her housemates initially woke her up, adding: “We might not have woken up and we might have suffocated. We felt a bit dizzy and our heads hurt but that was probably because we were inhaling smoke”.
They were not allowed back into the house until it was declared safe, and had to stay at a friend’s house overnight as smoke and fumes had filled the property.
Another neighbour, second year Physics student Jack Hoddle, said: “We heard a knock at the door and it was a girl from a few doors down who asked if we realised that the house next door is on fire. I poked my head out the door and could see smoke.” “
They [the police] cordoned off about three houses either side, and there was four fire engines, a couple of ambulances and loads of police. There were big flames coming out of the window, and it was scary to watch as we didn’t originally know whether there was anyone in next door.”
He added that their house had also been filled with smoke and that the occupant of the top bedroom had to clean all of his clothes, bedding and curtains due to smoke damage. Fire officers also had to check to ensure that the fire had not spread to the attic of their house. .
Words and Photo: James Greenhalgh