A man fled his house through a rear window today after arsonists set fire to wheelie bins outside his home – having targeted a property 200 yards away just minutes earlier.
Paint technician and father-of-two Richard Mills, aged 39, noticed smoke pouring into his ground floor flat in Newcomen Court, Ivatt Close, Rushall, at about 3am.
A wheelie bin full of household rubbish had been set alight, spreading to his front door and filling the property with acrid smoke.
To make a quick exit and avoid the plumes of smoke, he climbed out of a ground floor window at the back.
Mr Mills, who lives alone but whose children sometimes stay with him, then ran down the street to firefighters who had just finished tackling another wheelie bin fire outside a house in nearby Pelsall Lane.
Two bins had been set on fire there at the end of a driveway, and crews had battled to stop flames spreading to parked cars.
Mr Mills said: “I was asleep when the smoke alarm went off at about 3am.
“I thought it was my mobile phone at first but when I got up and when I opened the bedroom door I saw smoke coming in.
“Then I opened the bathroom door and saw the flames licking up the window.
“I dialled 999 and they told me to stay indoors and not attempt to come out the front.
“My neighbour upstairs was also up and I got out through my lounge window.”
He added: “The thought that keeps running through my head is that my 10-year-old daughter could have been here and would have been sleeping in that room.
“It’s also the inconvenience to everyone. I’m having to take time off work. The mess will have to be cleaned up and a new front door will have to be fitted and a new bathroom window.”
Fire crews today said they believed the same people were responsible for both blazes – and said it was lucky no one was hurt.
Watch commander Tim Middleton, of Bloxwich Fire Station, said: “It was really quite dramatic when we turned up.
“It was an intense fire that had badly damaged the front door. The canopy above the door was also burnt and the window frame had melted.
“It was lucky no one was in the upstairs bedroom at the time because the window was open and the fumes coming off the bins are toxic.”