Neighbours snap into action as fire is started at Southsea home

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NEIGHBOURS have been thanked for their bravery after helping to put out a fire when arsonists struck.

Mum-of-four Tracy Norris and her son’s friend Chris Goshawk swung into action and worked as a team to put out the fire as it raged in a doorway in Gains Road, Southsea.

QUICK THINKING Tracy Norris with the bin she filled up to put out the fire

QUICK THINKING Tracy Norris with the bin she filled up to put out the fire

A police investigation has begun after the door of the terraced house was doused in petrol and then set alight with people still inside the building.

The drama started as 22-year-old Chris, who is based in the RAF in Norfolk but was visiting friends, was walking down Gains Road and saw the flames.

He said: ‘We parked at the end of the road and were walking down the road when we saw the front door on fire.’

He knocked on his friend’s house, alerting Tracy to the blaze.

Chris Goshawk

Chris Goshawk

The 48-year-old said: ‘He shouted at me “get water – across the road is on fire”. I have a tap in the garden that flows really quickly. I took the bin liner out of the kitchen bin because that’s the biggest container I could find. Then I ran into the garden and filled it up with water.

‘Chris picked it up and ran outside, he’s a big, strong lad. He put the fire out while I was in the garden filling anything I could up with water.’

Tracy later found a petrol canister outside the property. She said the doorway ‘stank’ of petrol.

Chris, who is originally from Station Road, Copnor, said: ‘ I ran into the house and grabbed a bin-full of water. There were a few people outside panicking.

‘They were pretty big flames and it was quite hot.’

Bob Chinn, 47, is a tenant and was inside the house.

He said: ‘The fire alarm went off. I came out of my flat and there was lots of smoke upstairs.

‘I thought “what do I do?”. I was thinking of climbing out of the back window.

‘I put a jumper over my face and I could feel the heat as soon as I came down the stairs.

‘I looked down towards the door and saw the fire. As soon as I saw it, the neighbours were putting the fire out.’

Landlord Mike Triggs, 53, reckons the damage is between £2,000 and £3,000 but said it would be far greater had it not been for the quick-thinking neighbours.

He said: ‘It’s fantastic of them.

‘They jumped to it straight away and did not think twice about it.

‘A lot of people would have probably sat and waited for the fire engines to arrive. It allowed Bob to get out.’

Police are appealing for information about the incident, which happened shortly before 6pm on Friday. The motive remains unclear.

A 43-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of arson. They were questioned and released on bail pending inquiries.

Investigating officer Det Con Andrew Larder said: ‘If not for the prompt and courageous actions of the neighbours, this could have been a much more serious situation. Thankfully the fire did not have a chance to spread.

‘We are looking to recover a plain grey tracksuit and shoes, which may have been abandoned in the area. I am asking local residents to check their gardens and bins for these items.’

Anyone with information should contact CID at Fratton on 101.