A 56-year-old man is in hospital, fighting for his life, after a lit firework was posted through his letter box.
A fire tore through the home of Tony Nicholls, who could be heard screaming as he desperately tried to smash windows so he and his partner Marie could flee the spreading flames.
50-year-old Marie is believed to have broken both legs after jumping from the couple’s bedroom window in Tile Cross, Birmingham, when they were woken by the blaze at 11pm on Thursday night.
Tony is believed to be in critical condition suffering from 60 per cent burns, as well as smoke inhalation before he was dragged out of the property and resuscitated by paramedics.
Emergency services were called after the blaze ripped through the couple’s semi-detached property.
Detectives are now treating the fire as arson, with a firework believed to be the source of the fire within the hallway of the property.
Neighbours living on the quiet residential street said they believed multiple fireworks were put through the pair’s letterbox in a targeted attack.
One elderly woman, who did not want to be named, said:
It’s really shocking because this is usually a nice quiet area. I’ve been told somebody put lit fireworks through their letterbox – I think they were targeted. They were both in bed asleep and Marie jumped from the window.
It’s despicable that somebody could do such a thing. It’s attempted murder. Anyone stupid enough to do this would know it would surely endanger lives.
He used to work at the hardware shop over the road but gave up because of his health – we are praying he pulls through but it doesn’t look good.
Another neighbour said:
On Tuesday they had their windows smashed and on Thursday I heard a booming noise. I ran over to get the neighbours out.
Neighbours said there was someone in there. I called the fire brigade. I didn’t see anyone, just lights going off.
In ten seconds I saw the smoke and I thought, ‘oh cr*p, I have got to get them out. I ran towards the garden and neighbours came out, I said ‘get out’ and I phoned the fire brigade.
49-year-old Matthew Green, said:
It’s unnerved everybody. I saw the paramedics working on him.
While another neighbor said:
I heard him shouting, screaming for help. He broke all the windows to try to get out. They brought him out and resuscitated him. He’s suffered about 60 per cent burns.
73-year-old Janet Mahoney said:
We heard fireworks. It was lots of fireworks as well. I can’t believe somebody would stand there feeding fireworks through a letterbox.
Over a two day period somebody did the top windows then the bottom windows. They did not deserve this. Fifteen years ago they were in a sexual relationship.
Tony rented that place for at least 20 years. She has been here around 15 years. They are not married and have no children.
Witnesses have also said they saw a group of youths running away from the house after ‘a whole box of fireworks’ was placed through the letterbox.
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named but lives opposite, said:
We heard multiple fireworks going off – it sounded like a box of fireworks going on and on. I opened the window and heard noise, there was like four to five youths running around by the front door.
As the fireworks stopped, then the fire started. The youths disappeared and within minutes fire trucks showed up. They went straight in with the hose and put out the fire pretty quickly.
They tried to resuscitate him and he was taken away on a stretcher.
Another local resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, added:
Tony was a very placid and friendly guy, I’m not sure why anyone would do this to him? The blaze took hold very quickly, it’s terrifying how quickly these flames can spread.
These kids don’t know how dangerous these fireworks can be, they are weapons. It’s twisted that somebody could deliberately do this knowing people were inside.
West Midlands Police are appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious to come forward.
Officers are scouring CCTV in the area and conducting house to house enquiries in an effort to trace those responsible.
Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Burton, from force CID, said:
The occupants of the address are in a critical condition in hospital and we are urging anyone who has information to help us trace those responsible to contact us.
Information can be given by calling 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.