"It was so scary" - Neighbours react as suspected arsonist ran away from South Shields house 'engulfed in flames'

Detectives are appealing to the public after a suspected arsonist accidentally set himself alight while torching a home in South Tyneside.

Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 4:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 9:17 pm

Police were called to a house that was on fire on Belloc Avenue, South Shields, at around 3.00am on Tuesday, June 25.

Northumbria Police say that one occupant of the address suffered minor injuries to his feet, while CCTV appears to show a man running away from the area engulfed in flames.

A neighbour who spoke with The Shields Gazette had captured a picture of the fire in full blaze. They explained that the door, which was burning, was the only exit for anyone who was upstairs in the property.

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Suspected arson attack on a Belloc Avenue, South Shields

One neighbour said: “I got woken up by the sound of the fire engines. At first, I thought it was a really low aeroplane, but I looked out and could see the flames of the front door.

“It was so scary.”

Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I heard the smoke alarm sounding and came out and saw the front door alight. I went to the back garden and saw the lad, lass, and kid in the back garden – coughing their heads off. They managed to get their dogs out too.

“The fire was brutal. I could feel the heat, which makes me think it was petrol.

The scene of the blaze in Belloc Avenue, South Shields.

“I wouldn’t want it on my doorstep. There is always kids playing out, we always thought it was a safe area.”

Detective Constable Gavin James said: “This was a very serious incident that could have resulted in severe injury or even a fatality.

“We are committed to finding those responsible for the fire, which we believe was started maliciously.

“Our enquiries have led us to a man who was acting suspiciously at the front door of the address in question, just before the fire was ignited.

Suspected arson attack on a Belloc Avenue, Biddick Hall flat

“We are now keen to speak to him in connection with the incident, and would ask anyone who is aware of somebody who has come to suffer serious burns over the last few days to come forward and pass that information to police.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 quoting reference 78 240619 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Suspected arson attack on a Belloc Avenue, Biddick Hall flat