Lucky escape after arson attack

A MOTHER was lucky to be alive after arsonists set fire to papers and pushed them through her letterbox while she slept.The 43-year-old woman, who has not been named but believed to be a mother-of-four, is now homeless after the attack.

A MOTHER was lucky to be alive after arsonists set fire to papers and pushed them through her letterbox while she slept.

The 43-year-old woman, who has not been named but believed to be a mother-of-four, is now homeless after the attack.

She was asleep upstairs in the family home in Marlowe Close, Braintree, when the fire broke out at 12.15pm on Saturday.

Luckily, she heard a noise and when she discovered the front door was ablaze she managed to escape by her back door from the end-terrace property which by now was heavily damaged by smoke.


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The householder was uninjured and did not require hospital treatment, although she received oxygen from paramedics at the scene.

Neighbour John Gould, 69, said he raised the alarm after the woman, who moved to the close a few months ago, knocked on his door.

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"She was panicking when I opened my back door and I rushed back in to call the fire service," he said. "I then went back out the back because I was worried that her kids could have been inside but fortunately they were not with her.

"I grabbed her dog and kept him in my house out the way.

"There was thick black smoke filling the place and I had to keep checking it had not spread to my property by checking my walls were still cool. I have lived here for 33 years and nothing like this has ever happened here before."

Two crews from Braintree brought the flames under control within 30 minutes, with four officers using breathing apparatus to fight the blaze. They remained on site for more than two hours making sure the property was safe.

Station officer Steve Wintrip said: "An investigation has taken place and we believe that the fire started at the bottom of the stairs after something was put through the letterbox.

"The woman had no smoke detectors so it was lucky she woke up when she did and it was a miracle she was not killed.

"We would warn householders again that they should fit smoke alarms and close their doors at night - the fact this woman survived is more by luck than judgement."

His message was backed by Assistant Divisional Officer Justin Johnston who said: "A family have been rendered homeless today after a fire which is being treated as deliberate.

"The occupier who was asleep in an upstairs bedroom awoke purely by chance to discover a fire at the bottom of the stairs. There were no smoke alarms fitted and as a result I would consider the occupant to have been lucky to have escaped alive, let alone uninjured."

Police are keen to trace a man who was seen in the vicinity of the road in order to eliminate him from their inquiries.

He was white, aged between 40 and 45, with black, very greying hair. He was carrying a camera and a rucksack.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Det-Sgt Greg Potter at Braintree Police Station on 01376 551312.

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