'I tried to go back in but the flames then were too high' - neighbours tell of dramatic rescue attempts after suspected arson in Hartlepool
Neighbours have described their rescue attempted at a burning house which saw them beaten back by the flames.
The community sprang into action after a terraced house went up in flames in Stephen Street, Hartlepool, on the night of Sunday August 4.
One neighbour kicked the front door open while another entered fearing someone could be trapped inside, but the would-be rescuers were left helpless due to the severe heat and smoke.
Thankfully it is understood a woman who lives at the address was out at the time.
Residents reported seeing a man go inside shortly before the fire broke out.
Alan Dixon, 59, told the Mail: “I was sitting on the front having a coffee when I heard something like a crack.
“At the time I thought it was somebody trying to shut a window. Then one of the neighbours shouted ‘there’s flames in the house’.
“You could hear the window cracking. Another neighbour kicked the door open because somebody had been seen going in but not coming out.
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“I was going to go in because the flames were only so far. I got as far as the passage but I came out.
“I tried to go back in but the flames then were too high. If there was anybody in there I couldn’t rescue them with the amount of smoke.”
The fire brigade arrived on the scene within minutes along with the police.
A cordon was put in place around the house on Monday and a police presence was in the street for much of the day.
One of the house’s next door neighbours told how he had to leave quickly after being alerted to the fire.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “All I knew was when there was a knock on my door around 9pm and the chap over the road said ‘you’d better come out because the house is on fire next door.
“The next thing I knew all the fire engines came up. I’m just hoping the young lass who lives there is alright.
“I have never known a fire in this street.”