An arsonist has been condemned for putting lives at risk after starting a blaze which spread to two homes.
The firebug started a blaze in a wheelie bin outside two homes on Batemoor Close, Batemoor, at 12.30am yesterday.
Flames spread to the porch area and filled the two homes with thick black smoke.
A family of five escaped from one house and their neighbour, a woman, also got out.
But a cat from one of the homes died in the blaze.
Firefighters who extinguished the blaze said it was started deliberately.
Police sealed off the damaged homes yesterday while the crime scene was examined and officers carried out inquiries on the street.
Travis Simpkins, aged 18, from Batemoor, who dialled 999 after spotting flames, said: “I heard three big bangs and then saw a lot of smoke. As I got closer to the house I could see all the flames.
“There was a woman outside screaming ‘help them, help them, there’s people in the house’.
“I ran to get my cousin’s partner, who lives on the same street and I dialled 999 but the operator told me that everybody was apparently out.
“Everyone I saw outside was very shocked.
“If this was deliberate whoever did it needs locked up.”
In 2005 three members of the same family died in an arson attack on a nearby street.
Anthony Brightmore, 68, his wife Patricia, 65, and their blind son Stephen, 35, died after a bin was set on fire outside their home on Batemoor Walk.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Emergency services were called at around 12.35am on Thursday to reports of a fire at a property in Batemoor Close.
“Two properties and two vehicles are believed to have been damaged as a result of the fire and a number of local residents were evacuated as a precaution.
“Nobody was injured.
“A 47-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with the incident and remains in custody.”
A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “Starting fires is reckless and costs lives, as even small fires like bin and rubbish fires can quickly spread.
“In high profile national cases arson attacks on homes have resulted in murder convictions and substantial prison sentences.
“The maximum sentence for arson is life in prison and we’d encourage members of the public who know of people starting fires in their area to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”