A PROBE is underway into an arson attack in which seven people - including a pregnant woman - were rescued from their homes.
Police and fire chiefs are treating the blaze at a block of flats in Mexborough as deliberate, it has been confirmed.
Crews were called to Hirstgate on Bonfire Night, after a fire was started in the communal bin area of the block. Flames spread through a back door to a hallway.
Firefighters rescued a man, woman and four-year child through the window of their smoke-filled flat.
A crowd of onlookers watched as four other people were led to safety by firemen wearing breathing apparatus.
The occupants included a woman in her 20s, a pregnant woman in her 30s, and four men. They had rung 999 and been given advice on what they should do over the telephone, as they waited for fire crews to arrive.
A large number of used fireworks were also to be seen in the yard behind the flats.
Peggy Mchale, 73, witnessed the rescue from her home across the road at about 10pm.
She said: “We looked out when we heard the fire sirens and saw smoke pouring out of a lower window in the flats. A lady and child were helped out of the window, and a man. The man collapsed on the ground and was given oxygen.
“It took a while for the fire service to get into the building and we could see one or two people hanging out the windows. Then a few were led out. There was so much smoke.”
Fireworks had been going off all around the area on Monday evening, and had been very noisy, said Mrs Mchale.
Flat resident Carl Hughes, 41, whose own ground floor home was unaffected by the blaze said he only knew of the fire when he saw flashing lights outside.
“I had a good check around this side of the building but we were alright, so I let them get on with it,” he said.
Neighbour Mandy Moore, 27, also witnessed the rescue.
She said: “We do get quite a bit of trouble round here. Windows get smashed regularly and stuff like that. I’m glad everyone got out safely from the fire.”
No-one was seriously injured although the pregnant woman was among those to be checked out at Doncaster Royal Infirmary for the effects of inhaled smoke, a fire service spokesman said. Fire crews from the Dearne and Edlington stations mounted the rescue operation.
Anyone who has information about people starting fires can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.