Arson arrest after woman jumps from window of burning Sunderland flat and neighbour is left hurt
A woman jumped from the upstairs window of her Sunderland flat while her neighbour has been left with burns after he tried to help save her.
A Northumbria Police cordon remained in place on Tuesday, August 6 at the front and rear doors to the flats in Whitehall Terrace in Hylton Road, a short distance from Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, as investigations continue into the blaze.
People living in the street say they believe a burning wheelie bin was pushed through the door and into the hallway of the upper flat.
Police confirmed on Tuesday that a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson.
A spokesman said: “Around half past midnight on Tuesday morning, police received a report of a fire at a property on Whitehall Terrace in Sunderland.
“Emergency services attended and the fire was extinguished.
“A 50-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
“A 28-year-old man has since been arrested on suspicion of arson.
“Inquiries into the circumstances around the fire are ongoing.”
Neighbours have told of how they went to the householder’s rescue after they heard her screams for help, while the man who lives in the downstairs flat has been left with burns to his hands and feet after he tried to get into the front of the house.
Residents were alerted to the sound of a smoke alarm at around midnight on, Monday, August 5, while those living doors away could hear the cries from the woman after she leapt from the rear window, leaving her with suspected fractures.
They kicked the door of the yard in to reach her and had managed to drag her a short distance from the back of the burning house, with another window upstairs blowing out and landing in the spot where she had lay just moments earlier.
People said they saw four fire appliances attend the incident, with two adult cats and three kittens belonging to another cat saved from the smoke-filled flat.
At around 5pm on Tuesday, the mother of the kittens was found inside the wrecked property and has been reunited with her young, as neighbours nurse them back to health.
One neighbour said: “I could hear shouting out the back, ‘Help me, help me’ so I ran out and I couldn’t see anybody.
“I could see the smoke and I ran up to the back gates and it was locked, so I tried to kick it, but I couldn’t get it opened.
“We could hear the sirens, so somebody out the front must have called 999.
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“A couple of people managed to drag her, only a short distance.
“Then there was a great bang from the other upstairs window.
“It had blown out and fell just where she had been, which is very lucky.
“The firefighters came around the back and the lad in the downstairs flat had ran in and got up the stairs, but he’s burned and cut all his feet.
“There was four fire engines, two ambulances and a rapid response car and I think they were giving her oxygen.
“They were with her for about an hour before they took her to hospital.”
She and family members have been caring for the kittens and their mother, with the babies checked over by a vet.
“They’re only a few days old,” she added.
“One of the firefighters brought them out on a blanket and then the mam was found today.”
A 50-year-old neighbour, whose husband, also 50, went to the injured woman’s aid, added: “We could hear bleeping and I realised it must have been a smoke alarm.
“I rang 999 and I could see her upstairs.
“The flat was full of smoke.
“You just try to help out as best to can, it was as unreal how well it was burning.”
One 56-year-old woman who lives nearby said: “I just got woken by the fire engines, it must have been around 11.45pm, and it was well alight by then.
“You could see all the smoke and everybody did their best to try and help.”
A spokesperson for the North East Ambulance Service said: “We were called by the fire service at 12.04am and dispatched two paramedic ambulances and a Hazardous Area Response Team.
“We treated one woman who had jumped from the house, for injuries to her back and legs and she was placed on a spinal board and taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital.”A second ambulance took a man to the same hospital suffering from burns to his hands and feet.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed it sent three appliances to the scene.
Police have asked anyone with information about the suspected arson to call 101 quoting log 27 06/08/19.