FIVE people had to be rescued from their balconies in after arsonists set fire to the bottom of a block of flats last night (Sunday).

Firefighters rescued the residents who were trapped on the first and second floors of the block of flats in Springbrook, Eynesbury, as smoke filled the stairwell after the fire broke out about 9.45pm.

Two more people were assisted out of their homes and seven were taken to hospital, but there were no serious injuries. Nine residents were given oxygen therapy.

Callum Faint, station commander, said: "Although it was a small fire it was located at the bottom of a stairwell and put lives at risk. The firefighters immediately set about rescuing the trapped residents and extinguishing the fire."

The cause of the fire was deliberate.

A police spokesman said: "We are investigating an arson in a block of flats in Eynesbury and are working closely with fire investigators."

The fire crews from St Neots, Gamblingay, Papworth and Cambridge, returned to base by 12.10am today.

- A FLAT in St Ives was filled with smoke after a cigarette set fire to a kitchen yesterday.

Fire crews from St Ives and Huntingdon were sent a flat on Redmoor Close at 5.40pm and found the home heavily smoke logged and the kitchen on fire. The occupants were not in at the time of the fire.

Fire damage was limited to the kitchen but the whole home was smoke damaged.

A fire service spokesman said: "The fire was started by a improperly discarded cigarette in a bin. Even if you think the cigarette is out it may still be hot enough to spark a fire.

"To stop smoke from spreading round your house, make sure that all internal doors are closed."

INFORMATION: Anyone with information should contact Cambridgeshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.