Drama as fire crew breaks into Portsmouth flat to rescue arson suspect

PROBE A firefighter at the scene on the blaze in Milton Road.   Picture: Dean Kedward (113079-9649)
PROBE A firefighter at the scene on the blaze in Milton Road. Picture: Dean Kedward (113079-9649)
The fire near Kentidge Way, Waterlooville, yesterday. Picture: Craig Handy

Suspected arson incident in Waterlooville causes £50,000 of damage

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HERO firefighters broke down the door of a flat to save a suspected arsonist who barricaded himself inside a blazing homeless hostel.

A brave crew fought their way inside a bedroom at Mill House hostel in Milton as a fire raged in the early hours yesterday.

They found an unconscious man suffering from smoke inhalation and performed life-saving first aid to get him breathing again.

The 27-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

He remains in police custody for questioning.

Fire investigators and police were at the scene all day yesterday following the blaze which started just after midnight.

Two fire engines from Southsea and one from Cosham were called to Mill House at 12.06am.

Staff and residents at the hostel were evacuated as firefighters went in to find the missing resident.

Southsea crew manager Chris Norgate said: ‘He was cornered in one room. It was like a box – the fire could not escape.

‘We deployed two breathing apparatus teams. Four firemen tried to gain entry to his room where they found one unconscious male.

‘They had great difficulty getting in because his room was barricaded shut.

‘It took four big guys to push past his barricade to get in.

‘I don’t know what he used to do it but he did a good job of not letting us get in.’

The unconscious man, who lives at the hostel, was carried out of the burning building and handed over to paramedics after the firefighters got him breathing again.

The casualty was then taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham for further treatment before his arrest.

Mr Norgate praised his crew.

He said: ‘The team made a sterling effort to revive him.

‘The guys worked hard to revive the male casualty and I was impressed with the level of competence and skill they showed throughout the incident.’

A spokeswoman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the cause of the fire is under investigation but would not divulge further details while the police probe is ongoing.

A spokeswoman for South Central Ambulance Service said: ‘We were called at 12.13am to Milton Road to reports of a flat fire. An ambulance crew and ambulance supervisor were on the scene and treated one patient for smoke inhalation.

‘He was treated by the crews at the scene and taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital for further treatment.’