Hostel fire an ‘arson attack’

The scene of the fire at a three-storey house at Mesnes Park Terrace

The scene of the fire at a three-storey house at Mesnes Park Terrace

A blaze which tore through a Wigan hostel, prompting a dramatic escape and rescue for two of its occupants, was the result of an arson attack.

That was the belief of fire investigators today, although they admit that conclusive evidence has not yet been found as the matter is handed over to the police.

There were terrifying scenes in Mesnes Park Terrace, Swinley, on the late afternoon of Tuesday August 30 as fire crews arrived to find the three-storey terraced building with flames already billowing out of the front.

Three people were trapped inside. One escaped relatively simply through the rear but the situation was far more perilous for the others.

A 17-year-old boy was trapped in his top floor room and the female manager had run up to the middle storey to warn him to get out when she realised that the flames and smoke were coming up the stairs behind her far quicker than expected.

She bravely took the decision to smash a window and leap to safety, suffering cuts in the process.

Meanwhile a crew from Wigan fire station put their 30ft ladder up to a small top floor bathroom window in order to try to rescue the distressed teen.

With temperatures reaching near unbearable heights and the room filling with choking smoke, a firefighter managed to get him out just in time and, although badly shaken, the youngster, dressed only in his tracksuit bottoms, escaped suffering with only minor smoke inhalation effects.

At the time crew manager Simon Connor said: “With all that heat I reckon that had we arrived a minute - or perhaps two minutes maximum - later, he would have been finished.

“The only other course for him if we had arrived later would have been to jump, but then he would have been unlikely to survive the fall either.”

And now, more than a month later, firefighters say that they are very sure that the blaze, whose origin was on the ground floor and so nearly cost lives, was started deliberately.