Man leapt through flames

Devonshire Road, Atherton, tennant Robert Fernadez at the scene of a fire at his flat

Devonshire Road, Atherton, tennant Robert Fernadez at the scene of a fire at his flat

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A MAN has told of his dramatic escape out of a burning building after a wheelie bin was set on fire next to his home.

Robert Fernandez, 20, was alarmed when his girlfriend called him to say a wheelie bin was on fire outside the front exit of a block of council-owned flats in Devonshire Road, Atherton, at 10.30pm last Wednesday.

He ran out of his top floor flat and was met with smoke, but battled on through the hallway and down the stairs.

As the fire exit was next to the main door where the fire was, he had to jump through the flames to escape from the building.

He said: “I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was, but the bin was full of flames, which were entering the building.

“I had to go through the black smoke and flames and I was coughing black smoke afterwards. I wanted to get out as I was pretty frightened, as I think most people would have been.”

Mr Fernandez’s main concern now is his safety as he claims there were no smoke detectors and no Fire Exit signs for him to follow as he was battling through the smoke.

He fears there will be another fire as he believes whoever set the wheelie bin on fire may return to do the same thing again - putting him and the other people living in the building at risk.

Mr Fernandez, who has lived in the flat for more than a year, has been told he can also return, but is staying at a friend’s house in Little Hulton, near Bolton, as he does not feel safe.

He added: “I have been told by the fire service and council that it is safe to return and to use the back door, which is the fire escape, to leave the building.

“But that is next to the front door. What happens if someone sets fire to a bin again at the back door and no-one can get out?

“I don’t feel safe. I got trapped there and I had to get myself out. All the ceiling inside is cracked and I fear it may give way.

“It has been nearly a week and nothing has been done. I want to be re-housed.

“I have been to hospital and I keep having panic attacks and I am not sleeping well.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police confirmed a 67-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

He was later released on bail without charge.