Man charged with setting fire to his own house

Arson fire at Grounds Avenue, March.
Arson fire at Grounds Avenue, March.
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A man has been charged with arson following a house fire in March that saw his neighbours evacuated in the early hours of the morning.

Alan Leader (61) was charged with arson recklessly endangering life after allegedly starting a fire in his Grounds Avenue bungalow.

He appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning and was remanded in custody to appear at Cambridge Crown Court tomorrow (Thursday).

It all started when a fire was detected in the bungalow after apparently setting off a neighbour’s smoke alarm. The fire had been started in the loft of the property and a neighbour described seeing flames when he looked through the front door.

Emergency services were called at 5.30am and the neighbour alerted other residents to the danger, as the bungalow was in a block of six. All of them had to be evacuated.

One elderly resident said the incident had left her shaken, particularly when she saw the black smoke billowing from the roof. The lofts have missing bricks between the properties for ventilation, which meant the smoke from the fire spread through.

“This is a quiet neighbourhood,” she said. “We’ve never had any problems like this before.”

Residents in the bungalows, including two young girls, had to leave their homes and wait in neighbouring properties until they were given the all-clear to return some five hours later.

Firefighters extinguished the fire and cleared the smoke using a positive pressure ventilation fan. A fire investigation determined the blaze was started deliberately.