Northern Ireland

Couple jump out window to escape Newtownards flat fire

A woman in her 20s who jumped from a first-floor flat window to escape a fire is seriously ill in hospital.

The woman and her boyfriend both leapt out of the window of the flat at Bristol Park, Newtownards, at about 0430 GMT on Sunday.

Police believe it was an arson attack. A scooter was set alight in the hallway of the flats at the West Winds estate.

Nine people were forced to leave their homes and a number suffered from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Fire group commander John Denvir said: "The smoke alarm had gone off and alerted the couple to the blaze.

"They opened their door to try and get out. But the intensity of the fire drove them back and forced them to jump from the window."

The woman suffered burns to her arms and body in the fire. She may have broken her back and feet in the fall.

She is in hospital where her injuries are described as serious but not life-threatening.

It is understood her boyfriend was not seriously injured.

The flats were badly damaged.

Mr Denvir said if the couple had not been alerted by a smoke alarm, there could have been fatalities.

Police have appealed for witnesses.