ANGRY residents who had a lucky escape when a fire raged through a boarded-up property in Burnley have demanded action from housing bosses.

Neighbours of the gutted home in Milner Street, Daneshouse, said they were fortunate to flee with their lives after smoke from the blazing house began to seep into next-door homes at 6.30am yesterday. (fr Police said early indications suggested the fire was suspicious.

Residents said they had contacted the borough council repeatedly regarding the vacant house, which is just yards away from a new under-construction estate in Grey Street, which is part of the authority’s regeneration programme.

Saad Waheed, of Milner Street, said: “I am lucky to be alive, as thankfully I was awake. Both my sister and brother-in-law were sleeping across the hall and didn’t know what was going on and I had to get them up.”

Mr Waheed led Asghar and Maryan Ali to safety as smoke began to fill their home.

He said squatters may have been using the building in the days leading up to the fire.

“We could hear male and female voices coming from the house. There must have been around 30 or 40 complaints about this house over the past couple of years.”

Manzur Hussain, who lives at the corner of Milner Street and Grey Street, said: “This has happened more than half a dozen times with smaller fires.

“We have complained to the council but are they going to wait until one of us dies?

“It is every three or four months and I’m just surprised that they are spending all this money on houses opposite, but they are not boarding up the properties which are already here.”

His daughter Sunem Manzur said: “It is ridiculous. We have called around 15 times about this property. The council is spending all this money on new housing but not sorting out what is already here.”

She said it was fortunate that the family was already awake for morning prayers and were able to evacuate a number of children from the house.

Mr Hussain said he would be raising the issue with Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle and council leader Charlie Briggs.

Five fire appliances were called to the scene to deal with the blaze, which is currently under investigation by the county brigade and Lancashire Police.

Alan Ashworth, an acting watch manager from Burnley fire station, said that the fire was thought to have started on the ground floor of the property.

“We had to evacuate properties either side because smoke had filtered through from the house to neighbouring homes,” he said.

“It is now under investigation because there is believed to have been open access to the property.”

Insp Andrew Carter, of Burnley Police, said early indications suggested that the origins of the fire were suspicious.