A GOOD Samaritan jumped into action after arsonists set fire to two wheelie bins at a pensioner’s home.
Police say whoever was responsible “put lives at risk by their reckless actions”.
Housebound Anne Brown, 68, was dozing off to sleep when she heard people banging on her door telling her to get out.
Unknown to the mum-of-four, her two wheelie bins had been set alight and the flames had spread to her Peterlee bungalow – just inches from her gas pipe.
Anne, who struggles to walk due to back problems and suffers from lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), keeps oxygen in her bedroom and she fears there could have been an explosion had the fire taken hold.
The grandmother-of-12 and great-grandmother-of-four said a young woman she knows only as Stacey raised the alarm.
She added: “I thank my lucky stars. It doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened if she hadn’t been walking past. I might have been a goner.”
Anne’s family are now calling on young people to be educated more about the dangers of starting wheelie bin fires.
Peterlee Police are investigating the incident, which is thought to have caused £1,000 of damage to the bungalow in the Manor Way area, and are appealing for witnesses.
Anne, who had been treated by a GP just the day before for her breathing problems, said: “Someone was banging on my door and shouting there’s a fire.
“I couldn’t breathe by the time I got from the bedroom to the door. I could see the flames through the bathroom window.
“I was in sheer panic. Even now, I’m shaking all the time and can’t sleep and I’m having nightmares. I’m terrified in case it happens again.”
When Anne, who has lived at the bungalow for 11 years, made it to the door, Stacey and an unknown man entered the bungalow and rang the fire brigade.
Pc Paul Gooden, of Peterlee Police, said: “This was a serious incident. If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking of some passers-by there could have been more serious consequences. Whoever is responsible has put lives at risk by their reckless actions.”
The incident happened around 8.15pm on Tuesday, March 11.