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UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Suspected arson attack at Bournemouth home
A BLAZE that gutted a family home in Bournemouth was started deliberately, police fear.
Eight members of the family, including a little girl who is believed to be four years old, were treated for smoke inhalation following the fire in the Newbury Drive home.
A hamster and a Shih Tzu dog were killed in the blaze, which begin shortly before 11.30pm on Monday and destroyed the two-bed property.
The windows of the kitchen and of a BMW X5 and a Range Rover had also been smashed.
Ryan Speed, 18, who is a cousin of the family and lives next door, said everyone had escaped from the house in time.
“They lost one of their two dogs, but everyone was okay,” he said.
“I was out when it happened so I didn’t see anything, but it looks really bad.”
He said the family were staying in Bournemouth for the time being.
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “I heard a big explosion – a ‘whoosh’.
“I was looking out of the window and I could see the flames. I got up after I heard the car and kitchen windows get smashed in.”
He said he saw three young people running away from the house as the flames grew, and added: “It looks like they meant to do some real damage.”
Neighbour Jean-Ann Hill said she saw the flames and had worried about the safety of the family.
“It’s an absolutely dreadful thing to have happened,” she said.
She added that she had seen the family standing on top of an extension to the house as they tried to escape the flames.
“It must have been very frightening indeed – it was a big fire,” she said.
Fire investigators are now looking into the cause of the blaze.
Watch manager at Redhill Fire Station, Simon Dennett, said: “Fire investigators are working with the police to establish the cause of the fire.
“Today, we’re here to promote public safety and reassure the public and neighbours.”
Dorset Police confirmed they received a call at around 11.30pm on Monday to report the fire.
A spokesperson said: “Officers arrived accompanied by the fire service, who brought the blaze under control.
“The fire has caused extensive damage to the house. The occupants in the house were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation. The blaze is currently being treated as suspicious.”
Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information to call them on 101, quoting incident number 18:566.