FIVE people had to jump out of a window to escape a house fire that police are now treating as arson.

The Blackbird Leys home was yesterday cordoned off with police crime scene tape as fire and police investigators probed the cause of the blaze, which started at about 2.45am.

Neighbours yesterday told the Oxford Mail they were woken by screams.

A 33-year-old man suffered a broken leg after leaping from the first-floor window when the ground floor of the property was consumed by the flames.

Two men, 27 and 48, and two women, aged 20 and 27, were also injured escaping the fire in Mallard Close.

Neighbours Stephen Clearly and Rhona Smith yesterday described how they woke up to the sounds of screams coming from across the street.

The pair looked out of their window and saw flames coming from a window.

Mr Clearly, 40, said he ran over and tried to get inside the house to see if anyone was inside.

He said: “I ran up to the side door. All the glass was gone and the door frame, what was left of it, was on fire.

He said the downstairs front window blew out shortly after the emergency services arrived.

Ms Smith said she heard a woman shouting “my house is on fire” before Mr Clearly called 999.

She said: “The fire must have taken hold quickly.”

She added: “The main thing at the end of the day is they are all right. You just think you are lucky it is not you.”

A woman who lives next-door to the house that caught fire said she found her neighbours around the back of the house after they had jumped onto the patio below.

She said the home was a shared house, but said she did not know her neighbours’ names.

The mum-of-four, who asked not to be named, said: “It was scary. Someone could have been killed.”


A forensic investigator and fire officer at the house

Another neighbour said: “It is scary – too close for comfort.”

And Linnet Close resident Pauline Ahmed, 52, said she was awoken by the incident. She said: “All I saw was two people being taken out on stretchers.”

A total of 16 firefighters were called to the scene and soon established that all the occupants of the house were out. They then extinguished the fire.

Station manager Simon Belcher said: “This was a substantial fire. The house is completely wrecked on the inside. It started on the ground floor and spread upstairs.


Smoke from the fire blackened brickwork on the outside of the house

“The ground floor and stairwell is fire-damaged and the rest of the house is smoke-damaged.

“We do not know yet if there was a working smoke alarm but they were woken by the fire. It is imperative homes are fitted with working smoke alarms.”

He said the occupants - who were woken by the fire and not a smoke alarm - were lucky to have survived.

Anyone with information about the blaze should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.