A GOOD Samaritan jumped into action after arsonists set fire to two wheelie bins at a pensioner’s home.
Police are treating the attack as a serious incident and say whoever was responsible “put lives at risk by their reckless actions”.
House-bound Anne Brown, 68, was dozing off to sleep when she heard people banging on her door telling her to get out.
Unknown to the mum-of-four, her two wheelie bins had been set alight and the flames had spread to her Peterlee bungalow – just inches from her gas pipe.
Anne, who struggles to walk due to back problems and suffers from lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), keeps oxygen in her bedroom and she fears there could have been an explosion had the fire taken hold.
The grandmother-of-12 and great-grandmother-of-four said a young woman she knows only as Stacey raised the alarm.
She added: “I thank my lucky stars, it doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened if she hadn’t been walking past. I might have been a goner.”
Anne’s family are now calling on young people to be educated more in the dangers of starting wheelie bin fires.
Peterlee Police are investigating the incident, which is thought to have caused £1,000 of damage to the bungalow, in the Manor Way area, and are appealing for witnesses.
Anne, who had been treated by a GP just the day before for her breathing problems, said: “Someone was banging on my door and shouting there’s a fire.
“I couldn’t breath by the time I got from the bedroom to the door. I could see the flames through the bathroom window.
“I was in sheer panic. Even now, I’m shaking all the time and can’t sleep and I’m having nightmares – I’m terrified in case it happens again.”
When Anne, who has lived at the bungalow for 11 years, made it to the door, ‘Stacey’ and an unknown man entered the bungalow and rang the fire brigade.
PC Paul Gooden, of Peterlee Police, said: “This was a serious incident. If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking of some passers-by there could have been more serious consequences.
“Whoever is responsible has put lives at risk by their reckless actions.”
Anne’s family have appealed for those responsible to come forward and for young people who start wheelie bin fires to be educated on the consequences.
The family also want to highlight how fire service resources are distracted from other emergencies by incidents like this.
They would like to see more awareness on wheelie bin fires in schools and also thanked Peterlee Police and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and East Durham Homes for their help in dealing with the aftermath of the fire.
They also thanked ‘Stacey’ for raising the alarm and have appealed for her to contact police as a witness.
The incident happened around 8.15pm on Tuesday, March 11.
Anyone with information regarding the fire is urged to call PC Gooden on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
• Are you Stacy or do you know her, if so ring the Mail on (01429) 239381.