Neighbours left petrified after Knebworth arson attack

PUBLISHED: 18:02 24 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:54 26 October 2009

The destroyed maisonettes in Cherry Close, Knebworth

The destroyed maisonettes in Cherry Close, Knebworth

NEIGHBOURS have spoken of their terror after arsonists torched two maisonettes. As previously reported on www.whtimes24.co.uk, four people were rushed to hospital after fire ripped through the building, causing the roof to cave in and the front wall to co

NEIGHBOURS have spoken of their terror after arsonists torched two maisonettes.

As previously reported on www.whtimes24.co.uk, four people were rushed to hospital after fire ripped through the building, causing the roof to cave in and the front wall to collapse.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene, in Knebworth, in the early hours of Thursday.

Fifteen neighbours in Cherry Close, on either side, had to be evacuated.

The blaze, which police say was arson, broke out at 2.45am in the downstairs maisonette.

Gary Sanderson, East of England Ambulance Service spokesman, said: "Four people were found to be suffering with the effects of smoke inhalation.

"Paramedics and technicians administered oxygen before conveying them to the QE2 and Lister hospitals."

One of the four taken to hospital was a 64-year-old neighbour.

She told the WHT: "I could see the flames coming through the windows of the flats.

"We were petrified.

"The poor chap [resident of the upstairs flat] has lost everything.

"I was tested for carbon monoxide poisoning, but was released later in the morning.

"Nothing in my flat has been badly damaged but there is soot everywhere. It was terrible."

Fire crews, from WGC and Stevenage, left the scene at 4.30am.

Detective constable Stuart Murrell said: "At this time we are treating this incident as arson.

"Thankfully no-one was seriously injured, however considerable damage has been caused to a number of properties.

"I would ask anyone with any information in relation to this incident to contact police."

Officers cordoned off the area for scenes of crime experts to carry out forensic searches.

A 72-year-old neighbour said: "The woman above my flat knocked on my door and said there was a fire.

"I quickly put on my dressing gown and coat and ran outside.

"My bathroom and kitchen ceilings were badly damaged and will have to come down.

"It was frightening."

If you saw or heard anything suspicious during Wednesday night or in the early hours of Thursday call police on 0845 33 00 222.

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