Hereford & Worcester

Kidderminster fire: 'Arson' leaves mother and son critical

Scene of the fire
Image caption The fire broke out above the Dress 4 Less and Cash 4 Clothes shops

A mother is critically ill and her young son is seriously ill following a suspected arson attack in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.

Firefighters were called to a flat above shops in Horsefair at about 22:00 GMT on Thursday.

They rescued the woman, 22, and her son, five. Witnesses said residents jumped from windows of adjoining flats.

A 41-year-old man from Kidderminster has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

Dean Gold, manager of the Old Peacock pub on the street, said: "We realised there were people upstairs and we were telling them all to jump out.

"Two lads jumped out and we caught them, then a lorry pulled alongside and another lad jumped out."

Another eyewitness, who gave his name as George, said: "We heard a bang, had a look and there was a big cloud of smoke. We went up the road and there were people everywhere and police.

"The firemen came out with a woman and were resuscitating her for I don't know how long. Then they got either a girl or boy out, maybe seven or eight or even younger than that."

Image caption Emergency services were called to the scene at about 22:00 GMT

The rescued woman was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, and the boy to Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Diane Powell, nearby resident, said the family was Polish.

She said: "They've not long moved in. As far as I'm aware they were a man and his wife and young son and I believe she was pregnant again."

Two other people were treated for the effects of smoke inhalation and were taken to Worcester Hospital, where their condition was described as "not serious".

Neighbours were moved out of their homes following the fire.

Nick Cadman, North Worcestershire Fire Commander, described the rescue operation as "significant" and praised his team's prompt work in stopping the spread of the fire to other homes and shops.

Supt Kevin Purcell, of West Mercia Police, said: "We would like to thank everyone in the surrounding area for their support and patience while we manage and investigate this incident."

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