Police make arson arrest after council flats evacuated in middle of night

Police are this afternoon questioning a 52-year-old man about an arson attack which forced council tenants to flee their homes in the middle of the night. Staffordshire Police made the arson arrest earlier today.

It comes after Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and West Midlands Ambulance Service were called to a fire on Beveridge Close, in Meir, overnight. The courtyard fire spread to tenants' homes.

A police spokesman said: "A man has been arrested following a deliberate fire behind a block of flats in Stoke-on-Trent this morning. Officers went to Beveridge Close just before 3.45am this morning after a fire broke out in the courtyard behind the buildings.

READ: 'There was a massive bang' - Terrified residents flee flats inferno - Emergency services were called to Beveridge Close, in Meir

READ: Arson probe as council tenants ordered out of homes at 3.45am - Emergency services were called to Beveridge Close, in Meir

"The fire quickly spread to nearby properties, prompting emergency services to evacuate those in the area. Crews from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service put out the fire just before 6.45am and thankfully, no-one was injured. Fire investigators later deemed the incident to have been started deliberately.

"A 52-year-old man, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. He will be questioned about what happened in custody. We are keen to speak to people who saw what happened, or those with CCTV or dashcam footage of the area at the time."

Paramedics were called to the scene at 4.24am. But everyone had been evacuated safely and no-one required treatment.

An ambulance service spokesman said: “We were called to a fire near a property on Beveridge Close. One ambulance attended the scene. Upon arrival, no patients required treatment and we were stood down as our assistance was no longer required.”

Police are appealing for witnesses following this morning's blaze. They should call the police on 101, quoting incident number 73 of 3 May, or call Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555111.

If you're on the lookout for local news, we have you covered with our FREE email newsletter - sign up in the box at the top of this story or click here.