Frightened pensioners were evacuated from a South Yorkshire care home in the middle of the night after a blaze started in the basement.
The 22 elderly residents were ushered out of their bedrooms by carers as the residential home filled with smoke and the fire alarm sounded.
Firefighters who tackled the fire at Bollingbroke House, Common Road, Brierley, Barnsley, discovered hay bales in the basement were burning. The hay was still stored there from the days when the care home kept ducks in its grounds.
The old people were transferred to neighbouring home, Willoughby House, Cudworth, in the back of ambulances, police cars and riot vans.
Bollingbroke deputy manager June Painter said: “Our residents are elderly mothers, fathers and grandparents - if this was deliberate how would the person who did this like it if their relatives had to go through this?
“This is their home, it is where they are loved and cared for, they should not have had to deal with something like this.
“Fortunately all our emergency evacuation procedures went to plan and I can’t thank the staff, firemen, police and ambulance staff enough for everything they did - everyone got out safely.
“It was a shock for the residents but they are looking at what happened as a bit of an adventure for them, to be taken out in the back of police cars and riot vans.”
The blaze broke out on Monday night and residents are likely to be moved back to Bollingbroke tomorrow once the smell of smoke has gone. Manager Chris Nicholson said: “The residents were unharmed but shocked. I am just glad everybody is safe.”
The cause of the fire is being investigated. Call South Yorkshire Police on 0114 220 2020.