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Neighbours leap into action after suspected arson

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QUICK-THINKING residents led their neighbours to safety after a fire broke out on their estate.

Residents leapt into action after a blaze raged from a block of flats in Oak Park Drive, Havant.

Eyewitnesses described windows smashing and flames surging through until the roof was alight.

Residents said they saw a man wearing boxer shorts and carrying a knife running from the house before being calmed down by a
neighbour.

Teenagers Tia Richardson and Coral Spence alerted the fire brigade and knocked on people’s doors to get local families to safety. A man has been arrested and yesterday an arson investigation team were searching for clues at the flats to find out how it started.

Tia, 15, spotted the blaze as she and a friend took the dog for a walk at about 11pm on Tuesday.

She said: ‘We saw the smoke and thought it was a bonfire.

‘As I walked forward, I could see the flats were on fire.

‘The windows smashed and the flames were coming out of the roof. It was horrible.

‘We ran and knocked on people’s doors to help get everyone out.’

Coral, 14, was inside the house and dialled 999 when she saw the smoke.

She said: ‘I was on the phone explaining everything and then I saw someone run out in their boxers with a knife.

‘He went round towards the car park and then stopped. The fire was getting worse.’

Dad-of-two Kent Edward Bergh, 29, ran inside the flats to tell everyone to get out.

His wife Jennifer Bergh, 25, said: ‘He went inside and told everyone to get out.

‘He ran in there and didn’t even think about it.’

Tia added: ‘He’s so brave.’

Fire crews from Waterlooville and Hayling Island put out the blaze.

The block of flats is run by Havant Housing Association, which provides housing to people with mental health issues, learning disabilities, dependency issues and physical disabilities.

No-one was available for comment yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Hampshire Constabulary said they were investigating 
arson.

She said: ‘A man has been arrested following a fire in a flat at The Oaks, Oak Park Drive, Havant.

‘A number of residents had to be evacuated from their homes as a result of the incident, which was reported to police at 11.20pm on Tuesday, August 12.

‘A police cordon is in place to allow officers to investigate.

‘A 43-year-old man from Havant remains in police custody.’

 

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