Drunk arsonist jailed over Preston flats blaze

Fire drama: The damage left behind after the fire caused by Kathleen Dawson on flats in Grimshaw Street, Bamber Bridge
Fire drama: The damage left behind after the fire caused by Kathleen Dawson on flats in Grimshaw Street, Bamber Bridge
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Woman who started a blaze at a city centre block of flats has been jailed for three years.

Several residents of the three storey building in Grimshaw Street had to leave their homes when the fire took hold on a top floor landing.

Kathleen Dawson

Kathleen Dawson

No-one was hurt but one resident had to run past the fire, which had started in a hallway, in their bid to escape.

Fire crews from Fulwood, Bamber Bridge and Penwortham were called in after a resident, Kathleen Dawson, 43, ran to a taxi office over the road and asked them to call 999.

However, it later emerged Dawson had started the fire deliberately.

Up to 20 firefighters tackled the blaze amid fears there may be people stuck inside the building.

Arson places everybody at risk - not just the people in the property but the firefighters who have no option but to take that risk. There can be terrible consequences for people and property as a result of arson.

John Taylor

Three fire engines were also at the scene with extra fire officers drafted in due to the risk to the safety of the building’s occupants.

The fire caused significant smoke and fire damage to the kitchen, bathroom and communal hallway of the flat.

The three storey building had to be completely evacuated.

Dawson, who was unable to return to her flat following the fire, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to life being endangered.

Fire drama: The damage left behind after the fire caused by Kathleen Dawson on flats in Grimshaw Street, Bamber Bridge

Fire drama: The damage left behind after the fire caused by Kathleen Dawson on flats in Grimshaw Street, Bamber Bridge

She admitted she was extremely drunk when she started the fire but could not give any explanation as to why she had done it.

Judge Michael Byrne sentenced Dawson, of Fylde Road, Preston, to three years imprisonment when she appeared at Preston Crown Court.

John Taylor, a spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said: “Any arson is serious and has the potential to kill. The law takes it very seriously.

“Fire is very unpredictable in the way it spreads and how it develops.

Fire drama: The damage left behind after the fire caused by Kathleen Dawson on flats in Grimshaw Street, Bamber Bridge

Fire drama: The damage left behind after the fire caused by Kathleen Dawson on flats in Grimshaw Street, Bamber Bridge

“Arson places everybody at risk - not just the people in the property but the firefighters who have no option but to take that risk. There can be terrible consequences for people and property as a result of arson.”

He welcomed the sentence handed down to Dawson.