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House blaze was arson.

FIRE crews smashed their way into a block of flats after a man barricaded himself in and started a blaze in the bedroom.

They were called to Juniper House in Hallgarth Road, Winlaton, Gateshead, on Wednesday to tackle the blaze.

The crews from Swal-well and Newcastle's Colby Court had difficulty gaining access to the first-floor flat because a wardrobe had been put across the front door.

After forcing their way in, they put out the blaze but were unable to prevent it causing serious damage.

Minutes earlier, a man, aged 44, had climbed out of the bedroom window and lowered himself to the ground floor.

He escaped serious injury and was taken to Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.

The alarm was raised shortly before 9pm by another resident, who phoned the emergency services on their mobile phone.

Occupants had fled the building before emergency teams arrived and no-one was hurt.

Water damage was caused to a ground-floor flat during the firefighting operation.

Northumbria Police say they are treating the incident as arson.

A man has been arrested and is helping with enquiries.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 24, 2007
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