A MAN with mental health problems started a fire at his home and then threatened fire officers who attended.

Blackburn magistrates heard Michael Pinder had indicated that he had a knife and the firemen had genuine fears for their safety.

And when police “red dotted” Pinder he produced a knife and threw it on the floor.

Pinder, 35, of Cog Lane, Burnley, pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour towards the fire and rescue officers and a female police officer and possessing a knife in a public place.

He was sent in custody to Burnley Crown Court to be sentenced after the magistrates heard he had previous convictions for possessing a knife.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said the fire service responded to an emergency call which said there was a fire in Cog Lane. The caller, who turned out to be Pinder, reported people inside the house and a man with his clothing on fire.

When they arrived Pinder said the fire was out but an officer insisted on checking. He found a pile of clothes in a bedroom which had been burning and there was still smoke.

“The defendant then said he had set the fire to get people to his house so the man with the gun would go,” said Miss Allan. “He then ordered the fire officers out of his house and he became agitated. He said he didn’t want to hurt anyone but he had a knife.”

Miss Allan said when Pinder came out of the house he pointed at four firefighters individually and counted to four and then said: “Pick a number.”

“The leader thought the defendant was picking a member of his crew to attack and shouted at them to move back,” said Miss Allan.

Pinder walked away from the scene followed by a female police officer.

“He stopped and said he had a knife and if the police came near him he would defend himself,” said Miss Allan.

“All the emergency workers involved were put in significant fear, believing he had a weapon which in fact he did.”

Mark Williams, defending, said his client had significant mental illness exacerbated by illegal drug use.

“He lives with his mother and relies on her for everything,” said Mr Williams.

“She had gone on holiday and he hadn’t been taking his medication. He believed there was a man outside the house in a yellow fluorescent jacket who was going to shoot him.”

Mr Williams said the police officer was on her own and it must have been a frightening situation for her.