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'It's ruined my life' - Man who helped save others from burning Norwich flats hits out at arsonists

PUBLISHED: 11:30 12 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:30 12 February 2018

Robert Royal pictured at his former flat, on Penn Grove in Norwich, which was damaged by fire.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Robert Royal pictured at his former flat, on Penn Grove in Norwich, which was damaged by fire. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A man who bravely helped save others from a burning block of flats has spoken of his anger that the arsonists who "ruined" his life are still at large.

Robert Royal pictured at his former flat, on Penn Grove in Norwich, which was damaged by fire.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYRobert Royal pictured at his former flat, on Penn Grove in Norwich, which was damaged by fire. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Firefighters said it was “very lucky“ no-one was seriously injured or killed in a fire which ripped through the flat in Penn Grove, off Aylsham Road, Norwich, in the early hours of September 9 last year.

Robert Royal lived in the flat above the property that was torched and helped alert others to the danger after being woken by his smoke alarm.

He banged on doors and shouted for people to get out, having seen smoke pour into his property and flames at his windows.

The fire meant Mr Royal lost his home as he was forced to move out following the blaze, which also cost him his job.

The block of flats on Penn Grove in Norwich which was damaged by fire.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe block of flats on Penn Grove in Norwich which was damaged by fire. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The 47-year-old had started work delivering for a print firm just six weeks before the fire but had to take time off to deal with the aftermath.

Today, almost six months on, Mr Royal said he is still “sickened” and admitted he is “very, very angry” and “bitter” no-one has yet been caught for the blaze which has forced him out of his home and work.

He said: “It’s ruined my life. It’s totally changed my life - people are in a lot worse situations 
than me, but it wasn’t a good week.

“To say it was a bad week would be an understatement.

The scene of fire at a flat in Penn Grove, off Aylsham Road. Picture Peter WalshThe scene of fire at a flat in Penn Grove, off Aylsham Road. Picture Peter Walsh

“I’d been in that place eight years. I loved it, it was my home. I’d made it my own. I wanted to stay and didn’t want to leave but they (the council) rang me and said I couldn’t stay.”

After losing his job just days later, Mr Royal, who know lives in Sprowston Road, said he is “struggling” to find work and come to terms with what happened - particularly as the culprit is still at large.

He said: “To me it’s attempted murder and I think they should have the resources available to find people who do this.”

A Norfolk police spokesman confirmed no arrests had yet been made and said the investigation would remain on file “unless new information comes to light”.

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