Home and two cars set alight in arson attack on St Neots housing estate

07:00 05 February 2014

The scene at Whitehall Walk, St Neots, after two cars were set alight on Wednesday.

The scene at Whitehall Walk, St Neots, after two cars were set alight on Wednesday.

Archant

A home and two cars were set alight in early-hours arson attacks.

A block of flats in Eynesbury was ­evacuated, with residents alerting their neighbours to the danger, after a fire was started at a ground-floor property in Pepys Road, just after 1.15am last Wednesday.

Petrol had been poured through the letterbox and set alight. Two people and a cat escaped through the back entrance.

The residents of the block of flats had escaped thanks to a neighbour who ­frantically rang all the buzzers.

Sam Mitchell, 21, said she and her boyfriend Sam Heatlie, 28, were woken by the sound of their doorbell repeatedly ringing.

They rushed downstairs and waited outside with their neighbours for about half-an-hour until firefighters had put out the flames and said it was safe to go back inside.

Two crews from St Neots and one from Huntingdon tackled the blaze.

Miss Mitchell told The Hunts Post: “I think we were both in shock. We didn’t really understand what was going on.

“We were the last ones out of the flat and the last ones to wake up.

“We couldn’t see the fire and I think we thought it wasn’t real until we smelled smoke coming under the door and saw police cars and flashing lights everywhere.”

Twenty minutes after the first incident a fire was reported in nearby Whitehall Walk.

Two cars parked at garages were set alight and the flames spread to the fence of a property where a family were ­sleeping.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “We were woken up by our neighbour banging on the door.

“We got everyone up and together – it was a frantic scene. It looked like the back of the house was going.

“There were several explosions, it sounded like airbags and air canisters exploding – it was like being at a really loud fireworks display.

“There was pandemonium. People were screaming and there was a bit of a roll call. We were trying to get everyone out in the street.”

His partner said: “It was totally ­terrifying – I’ve never witnessed anything like that in my life.

“The look in my two sons’ eyes as I was dragging them out of their beds will haunt me for the rest of my days.”

The family were allowed back into their home at about 4am. They do not yet have an estimate for the cost of the damage to their fence.

She said: “We want to thank the ­neighbour who alerted us, the police and the firefighters, who even came the next day to fit better smoke alarms – they were fantastic.”

n Mark Rose, 42, of Milkwood Road, London, has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life in relation to a fire at Pepys Road.

He appeared at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Tuesday), where Elaine Havord, representing him, said he denied the offence.

He was remanded in custody until next Tuesday when he will appear at Peterborough Crown Court for a ­preliminary hearing.

Police confirmed a man had been bailed in relation to the car fires.

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