Norwich family speaks after motorbike fire spreads to their house

A family in Thorpe Hamlet have spoken about the terrifying moment that their house caught fire after a motorbike was set alight just outside their front window.

Mum Sarah Duffield, 45, described it as her 'worst nightmare' after explaining that her daughter had been sleeping on the sofa by the window when the bike was set on fire.

Fortunately, Ms Duffield heard the alarm on the motorbike sounding and was able to get her partner, daughter, son, lodger and dog out of the house, in Newbegin Road, as the fire spread just after 3am today.

They also alerted their terrace neighbours to evacuate their houses for fear of it spreading.

Ms Duffield, who works in B&Q in Hall Road, said: 'When I looked out of the window it was just like a tiny fire that I thought we could put out ourselves. By the time I got down, it had taken over and everything went up. I just couldn't believe it.

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'We all came out the front. We did not think about anything, just got the dog, made sure everyone was out and waited for the fire brigade - who came out really quickly, but it felt like forever.'

She added: 'The consequences could have been completely different, especially with my daughter downstairs.'

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Her daughter Jane, 20, was asleep on the sofa, having arrived back from work at D&F McCarthy Limited, at Broadland Business Park, shortly before.

The dog, a Labrador cross Alsatian called Millie, was in the front room, while Ms Duffield, her partner Shaun Bonner, 42 who also works at B&Q, son James Duffield and lodger Andy Hooker were asleep upstairs.

Mrs Duffield added: 'It is your worst nightmare, especially when police think it is foul play.'

The Honda CBR 125 motorbike that was set alight belonged to lodger Andy Hooker, 20, who had bought it just two weeks ago.

He said: 'I'm pretty gutted. It was my pride and joy, and that was really out of the blue.'

Mr Hooker said that he used the bike to get to work at Harrow Green Removals, in Wymondham.

Ms Duffield's son James, 19, who also works at the same company, said he was glad his motorbike had not been parked outside overnight.

He said: 'I think it would have been a lot worse if the alarm had not gone off. The fire brigade said as soon as it spread to the house it could have killed us.'

The family have lived in the council house for about seven years. Yesterday, boards were being put on the front window, while the insurance company is expected within the next few days.

James said: 'I've never seen anything like that around here, especially not in the front garden in front of a window.'

He added that the house had suffered smoke and water damage.

'I've had about two hours sleep, and mum's been up all night. It's all a bit much to take in.'

Two fire crews attended from Norwich and Sprowston and were able to put out the fire quickly.

Norfolk police confirmed they are treating the incident as suspected arson.

Anyone with any information or saw anything suspicious between 12.40am and 3.15am is asked to contact police on 0845 4564567 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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