Sheffield arson victim ‘minutes’ from death

The scene of a fire on Manor Road, Dinnington
The scene of a fire on Manor Road, Dinnington

A stricken woman rescued by firefighters from her blazing arson-hit home is ‘lucky to be alive’ today fire chiefs said, writes Nik Brear and Polly Rippon.

The 35-year-old woman, who suffered burns to her face and breathed in smoke, was just ‘minutes’ from death, a fire investigator told The Star.

Police were last night questioning a 23-year-old man and 19-year-old woman on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

A wheelie bin had been pushed up against a side door of the property and set alight.

Group manager Ade Robinson, from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the fire crews had saved the woman’s life. 
“A couple of minutes more and that would have been it - it could have been a murder investigation,” he said. “She is lucky to be alive.

“When we arrived, smoke was pouring from the windows on the top floor and we were aware someone was inside.

“The firefighters put a ladder up to the front bedroom window and smashed it.

“They pulled her out straight away. It was that quick. She was struggling to breathe.”

The woman was woken by her smoke alarm and rang 999 at 5.05am yesterday.

A telephone operator gave her fire survival advice as emergency crews raced to the scene on Manor Road, Dinnington.

Police officers were first to arrive and used a fire extinguisher from their vehicle to break into the property, before firefighters from Aston and Maltby stations pulled the woman from her home.

Yesterday the semi-detached house was sealed off with police tape as officers stood guard.

The charred interior could be seen clearly and the external walls were black with soot.

Mr Robinson said that, had the fire happened last night when firefighters were on strike, crews would have travelled from further away, losing them valuable minutes.

Neighbours said the woman is a mother-of-three who moved in to the house only recently.

Nobody else was in at the time.

Next door neighbour Edie Macefield, aged 84, who has lived on Manor Road for 61 years, said: “There was smoke everywhere and I could see police around the back of my new neighbour’s house.

“I panicked and went to get dressed. I didn’t want to be in my nightie if I needed to make a run for it.

“I’m flabbergasted this has happened - we could have been waking up to a real tragedy.

“It’s usually such a nice quiet street. I hope they find the people who did this, I don’t know what they were thinking. I hope she’s okay.”

Fellow neighbour John Green, 35, added: “She’s only lived here a few weeks, it’s unbelievable this has happened.

“I saw her in the ambulance which was parked right outside my house. She was covered in black.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “A 35-year-old woman was taken to Rotherham Hospital where she was treated for smoke inhalation and burns to her face.

“Nobody else was injured.

“A short while later a 23-year-old man and 19-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, and are currently in police custody.

“Police believe this was an isolated incident.”

Anyone with information is asked to call South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting incident 217 of November 1.