AN arson investigation has been launched into the cause of a fire which saw the occupier forced to jump out of his first-floor flat to escape.

Police are investigating the cause of the fire which happened at a property in Rothesay Road, Shadsworth at around 6.20am on Thursday.

Initial calls came in to say that there were people trapped in the building but on arrival, crews from Blackburn and Hyndburn found the occupier of the flat had managed to escape by jumping out of a window after throwing his dog out first.

The fire is thought to have started close to the front door of the flat, and has damaged the stairs, spreading through to the flat below.

Linda Taylor, who has lived in the ground floor flat on Rothesay Road for around 12 years, said: “We heard a bang and my son came and woke me up and told me to get out.

“The fire has damaged the stairs and come through into the cupboard under our stairs. 

“The smell is really bad and there was a lot of smoke.

“The fire service had to come into my house and it’s a good job they looked in that cupboard as it was burning right through.

“My son said he heard someone running away from the house just after he heard the bang.

“Thwe man upstairs had to jump out of the window and used my ledge to get down.

“When we heard the bang we thought someone had put his door through but then my son looked out of the window and saw the flames.

“We just panicked, it was quite scary. Whoever has done it has probably put something through the letterbox.

“The fire service were really quick at getting here though.

“We phoned the housing association but they can’t repair the stairs until the fire service and police have finished the investigation.

“I want to leave the house now. I’ve been here a long time but I don’t want to live here anymore if things like this are going to happen.”

The man was treated at the scene and then taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Sgt Andy Green said: “One man suffered smoke inhalation and we are treating the fire as suspicious at the moment.”