‘I could hear the glass exploding’ - British gas engineer describes moment he saw house near Little Melton go up in flames

The fire was reported by British Gas engineer Thomas Kirkland, who was driving past when he saw an “

The fire was reported by British Gas engineer Thomas Kirkland, who was driving past when he saw an orange glow. Photo: Thomas Kirkland. - Credit: Archant

A man in his 20s has been arrested on suspicion of arson following a house fire near Little Melton.

Emergency services were initially called to the house, on Watton Road, near the Stocks Hill junction

Emergency services were initially called to the house, on Watton Road, near the Stocks Hill junction, shortly after 12.45am today. Photo: Luke Powell - Credit: Archant

Emergency services were called a vacant property, on Watton Road, near the Stocks Hill junction, at around 12.45am today.

Fire crews spent almost two hours tackling the blaze, which is believed to have been started deliberately.

Police said a man was arrested nearby and remains in custody at Wymondham Police Investigation Centre for questioning.

The fire was reported by British Gas engineer Thomas Kirkland, who was driving past when he saw an 'orange glow'.

Emergency services were initially called to the house, on Watton Road, near the Stocks Hill junction

Emergency services were initially called to the house, on Watton Road, near the Stocks Hill junction, shortly after 12.45am today. Photo: Luke Powell - Credit: Archant

The 35-year-old, from Hingham, said: 'At first I thought someone was having a bonfire, but then I thought 'who would have a bonfire at this time?'

'I went over because I wanted to check nobody was in. I called out to see if anyone was there and just hoped no one would call back.'

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Mr Kirkland said he banged on the front door of the property, but no one answered. He said he then had to back away as the flames got within six feet of him.

'It looked as though the fire started in the conservatory, and then spread into the house,' he said. 'I could hear the glass exploding.'

Mr Kirkland said fire crews were on scene within seven minutes of his phone call.

Firefighters from Carrow, Sprowston and Hethersett used hose reel jets, supplemented by a fire hydrant, to extinguish the blaze.

'It was definitely a sobering sight,' Mr Kirkland said. 'To see something like that go up in flames, it makes you go home and think if you had a fire, how would you get out quickly.'

This morning, access to the property was blocked off by police officers, who said the area was now a 'crime scene.'

The house, which has a 'for sale' sign outside, suffered visible fire damage to the ground floor and first floor.

It is understood that police are still attempting to trace the owners.

A forensics team arrived at the house, located to the west of Norwich, at around 10am.

A police spokesman said: 'Police are investigating a house fire which happened at a property in Watton Road, Little Melton.

'Fire investigators confirmed the fire was started deliberately.'

• Do you have pictures from the scene? Email luke.powell@archant.co.uk

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