FOUR people were rescued in three separate but very similar incidents as arsonists struck in Rochdale and Bolton earlier today.
In the first incident, above a shop in Edenfield Road, Norden, three people were balancing on a first floor window ledge after a fire was deliberately started at the back of the property.
Just over an hour later, a fourth man was found in almost exactly the same position at a first floor window when a fire was started at the rear of a shop in Chorley Old Road, Bolton.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said it attended a third fire in an empty house in Tyrone Drive, Bamford, which had also been deliberately started overnight. The three fires are not being linked at this stage but were strikingly similar.
Crew from Rochdale and Heywood arrived at the first incident in Bamford just before 2am this morning when petrol had been poured through the letterbox of the large detached house and set alight. The property, which was empty because the occupants had recently moved out, was heavily smoke logged. Firefighters wearing breathing equipment and using a hose reel went in to put the fire out and used a positive pressure ventilation fan to clear the smoke. The incident was reported to Greater Manchester Police.
Just half an hour later at 2.30am crew from Heywood, Ramsbottom and Chadderton were called to a fire in Edenfield Road, Norden, where they found three adults balanced on a first floor windowsill as smoke poured from the back of the building.
Crew Manager Paul Isberg was among those first on the scene. He said: â€œWe could see smoke coming from the back of the property and three people waving and screaming at us to help them. We used a ladder to get them down. At the back, the rear door was well alight and the brick work of the property was on fire.â€
Paul added that the property did not have a working smoke alarm and the residents had been alerted to the fire when they heard a large bang.
He added: â€œSomeone had deliberately poured petrol onto the back door and it probably caused the bang which woke them up. They were extremely lucky. The flat was very heavily smoke logged and this incident could have been a lot worse if they had not woken up.â€
Among the three adults were two women and a man. One of the women was given oxygen at the scene by a Fire Service Trauma Technician. None were taken to hospital. Firefighters carried out a Home Safety Check and fitted a smoke alarm before leaving the scene.
Just over an hour later crew from Bolton Central and Bolton North Fire Stations were called to a fire in a shop in Chorley Old Road, Bolton, where the back of the property had been deliberately set alight.
They discovered a man balancing on the window ledge of a first floor window as smoke poured from the property and used a ladder to rescue him.
Watch Manager Tony McKenna explained: â€œAs we got there a man was on the windowsill above the shop. He had a smoke alarm and it was sounding to alert him to the fire but the property was very heavily smoke logged. He was taken care of by colleagues from North West Ambulance Service but did not go to hospital.â€
Specialist Fire Investigation Officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have been called in to probe the exact cause of the fire.