A COUPLE were lucky to be alive after they dramatically escaped from their burning Hartlepool home after a suspected arson attack.
Fire chiefs say Terence Weighill and fiancee Mary Odges could have been killed after the door to their upstairs flat was set on fire in Fulthorpe Avenue.
They managed to get out of the property through the burning door after smoke alarms alerted them to the blaze at around 1am yesterday.
Terence, who suffers from epilepsy and who celebrated his 39th birthday on the day of the blaze, described the ordeal as “one big nightmare”.
He was getting ready for bed and Mary had been asleep in bed when the flat’s smoke alarm went off.
Terence said: “I went to investigate and there was all smoke coming from downstairs and I could see the front door was alight.
“I opened the front door to let some air in and rushed and got Mary out of bed.
“The door was on fire and the smoke was really thick, you couldn’t see in front of you.
“We rushed into the garden and the police, two fire engines and an ambulance came.
“It was scary. Mary was crying her eyes out and she is not very good with her nerves.
“It is just one big nightmare. It is my birthday as well, I will never forget about this one.”
The fire brigade quickly put out the fire, but say it could have been deadly.
Watch manager Ian Brown, of Stranton Fire Station said: “Some sort of combustibles was placed against the front door.
“The implications could have been extremely serious because the flat only has one exit which is the door that was on fire.
“Ultimately it could have been a situation with fatalities.”
Scenes of crime police officers and fire investigators gathered evidence on Sunday morning.
Fire investigator Steve Harll said: “We will send samples we have collected away for analysis, but we are fairly certain it is an arson attack.
“Fortunately the fire had not developed significantly and the occupants got out.”
Terence, who is unemployed, and Mary spent the night at a church hostel before returning yesterday lunchtime.
He added: “I didn’t know what to do, I was in shock more than Mary was.
“Something’s been pushed through the letter box by the look of it.
“You don’t expect it. We’ve never been used to anything like this.
“We’ve got no enemies and don’t bother anyone.”