By Connie Osborne 27/07 Updated: 27/07 16:21
A COUPLE have spoken of their devastation at watching their former home go up in smoke.
The fire at the property belonging to Sharon and Kevin Fletcher started in the early hours of Wednesday (July 25) morning and was thought to have been started deliberately.
It engulfed the downstairs of the home in Easemore Road and caused major damage to the ground floor, destroying the ceiling and causing smoke damage in the loft space.
Although the property had been empty for some time, neighbour Rebecca Jakeman, and her eight-year-old daughter were sleeping next door.
Rebecca was woken shortly before 1am by crackling noises and when she went to investigate saw the house ablaze and dialled 999 as well as contacting Mrs Fletcher.
As the flames threatened to spread to her home, police ensured mother and daughter were evacuated safely while firefighters tackled the fire. It was eventually put out by 3.40am although crews remained on site to damp down.
Mrs Fletcher told the Standard she was grateful to the fire service for their response and praised their work in the borough.
"It makes me shudder to think what might have happened had Becci been a heavy sleeper," she said.
"Although the house had been empty for some months, it still had a loft full of our families things including old portfolio's from college days and books.
"It is a wretched feeling watching your old family home go up in smoke, with the air full of 'if-onlys' and regrets. It is a devastating thing."
She added: "It has been a revealing experience, the heartbreak of the loss and damage has been tempered with the affection and care we have been shown by our many family, friends and neighbours. In the depth of our despair it helps us remember how lucky we are."
A man was arrested shortly after the incident on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life and after being questioned was later released on police bail while the investigation continues.
Anyone with information should contact Redditch CID on 101, quoting incident reference 20-S-250712, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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