Family flee Stoke-on-Trent home in middle of night as arsonists flout coronavirus lockdown to start two fires in space of an hour


A family were forced to flee their Stoke-on-Trent home in the middle of the night – after arsonists flouted coronavirus lockdown to start two fires in the space of an hour.

Samantha Worrall was in bed when she noticed a burning smell from her plug socket before her electrics cut out.

The 32-year-old woke up her son Finley Derbyshire, aged six, before they escaped their home in Leonard Street, Burslem.

The pair then has to break strict social distancing rules to stay the night at Samantha’s parents’ house while the damage was assessed.

An investigation revealed yobs had set her neighbour’s shed alight with the flames spreading across his home and onto her kitchen roof at around 12.30am yesterday (March 31).

And just an hour later firefighters were also called to tackle a blaze at a nearby garage in Macclesfield Street.

It is believed both fires were linked.

Finley Derbyshire

Samantha said: “It was 12.30am and I could smell smoke and thought it was coming from my plug socket. Then, all of a sudden, the electrics went.

“I was fumbling around in the dark because I couldn’t work out what was going on. I thought it was my shed at first that was on fire. My kitchen was full of smoke.

“I rang the fire service and dragged Finley out of bed and took him outside before grabbing out coats and a scarf.

“He’s only six so he was really scared. It was freezing cold and raining too.

“Luckily I was already awake. If I’d been asleep it could have spread really quickly. I had to wake my neighbour up too.

“We were outside for about an hour. I was trying to get hold of my parents and they eventually woke up and we stayed the night there.

The fire damage in Leonard Street, Burslem

“At this time we’re not even supposed to be going to each other’s houses but we didn’t have a choice.”

Samantha, who has lived in Leonard Street for nine years, added: “The house still smells of smoke and my landlord is due to come round.

“It just seems a bit random that someone would do this with everything that’s going on at the moment. It’s the last thing the emergency services would want. They’re just idiots at the end of the day.

“There’s never usually any trouble in this part of Leonard Street.”

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Firefighters tackling the blaze in Macclesfield Street, Burslem

A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service  spokesman said: “Crews from Hanley and Burslem attended a fire at an address on Macclesfield Street in Burslem at around 1.30am yesterday.

“They used two breathing apparatus and one hose reel jet to tackle a shed fire.

“Crews from Hanley and Sandyford attended a fire at an address on Leonard Street in Burslem at around 12.30am.

“They used a hose reel jet and ventilated the outbuilding using positive pressure ventilation.

“Both fires are believed to have been started deliberately and Staffordshire Police have been contacted.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting incident number 29 of March 31.





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