Police are hunting arsonists after three men were rescued from a blazing Wigan block of flats, reportedly barricaded from the outside.
The victims were trapped on the top floor of a three-storey building in Scholes after a blaze was deliberately set on the ground floor.
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Neighbours have described chaotic scenes as the men fought for their breath through upstairs windows as smoke threatened to overcome them.
Thankfully, fire crews were able to prevent the flames from spreading and ventilate Morris House on Butler Street and lead the trio to safety. Each was given an oxygen mask as they were taken through the building by firefighters in breathing gear.
One of the witnesses to Thursday evening’s drama was Adam Waring who lives opposite the blaze-hit homes.
He said: “The street was crawling with police cars, ambulances and fire engines.
“I could see a ladder being thrown to the top floor by rescue crews, and people hanging out of the windows trying to breathe.
“I was told whoever did it put wood outside the door to trap them in.
“It’s terrible to think someone came to the area you live and did such a thing with the intent to harm others.
“Thankfully no one was seriously hurt.
“It could have been a lot worse.”
Other people who were in their homes but near to the scene reported seeing lots of flashing lights and panicked shouting coming from the direction of the flats.
Police taped off the area and launched an arson probe after crews said that they believed the fire – which broke out at around 8.30pm was started deliberately in a ground floor communal area where unused furniture was being stored. Occupants rang 999 after spotting smoke belching from part of the building.
Four crew members entered the three-storey building and first extinguished the flames relatively quickly and opened windows to let out smoke before venturing upstairs.
One man was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation while two others were treated at the scene by paramedics.
Two other occupants had managed to get out of the building from the bottom floor of the flats, without assistance from crews.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.