A TEENAGER was last night in a serious condition in hospital and a man has been arrested after a suspected arson attack on a house.
Fire broke out in the lounge of a terraced house in Draycote Road, Catherington, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Neighbours were woken by shouts and banging and looked out of their windows to see flames coming from the back of the property, which overlooks fields and farmland.
Firefighters were called at 4.35am and retained crews from Horndean and Waterlooville were on the scene within minutes.
A 16-year-old boy and another man were already out of the house when firefighters arrived.
The teenager was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, suffering from smoke inhalation.
His condition was not thought to be serious at first but he deteriorated after arrival at the hospital.
Neighbour Marion Tait said: ‘I was in bed and I heard a lot of noise and first of all thought it was the television because my husband was up.
‘I got up and the next thing I knew I saw smoke billowing out of the back of the house.
‘There was no way I could go back to sleep after that. We saw the dog run off across the fields and we were a bit worried but I think they caught it.
‘I really hope they are OK.’
Neighbours reported seeing a man being led away by police.
Next-door-neighbour Paul Gordon said: ‘We were woken up by banging on our front door from someone shouting out that there was a fire. Fortunately our house is fine but next door is badly damaged.’
Eighteen firefighters tackled the blaze and the lounge and stairwell were destroyed. Around 80 per cent of the house was damaged by smoke.
Police officers were posted at the front and back of the house all day while fire investigators pieced together what happened.
A spokeswoman for Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘We were called by the fire service at 4.39am.
‘It was a house fire which is being treated as suspicious. We have got a 16-year-old boy in Queen Alexandra Hospital in a serious, but not life threatening condition.
‘He was taken there with smoke inhalation but his condition has got worse.’
Police have arrested a 32- year-old man from Waterlooville, believed to have been staying at the house at the time of the arson attack, on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.
He is in custody while the joint police and fire arson investigation team gather evidence from the scene.