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Heroic rescue from burning Sompting bungalow
Hero neighbours went into a burning bungalow to save their friend after his home exploded.
Residents went into the home in Hillrise Avenue, Sompting, to pull out 54-year-old part-time pizza delivery man Michael Howard at 4.15pm yesterday (September 20).
Police believe a gas cylinder caught light, causing an explosion and then fire to break out.
Neighbours including Chris Collins and his mother Brenda Collins burst into the house and rescued Mr Howard.
Last night they, and other neighbours who helped him, were in hospital being treated for smoke inhalation. Mr Howard is seriously ill at Royal Sussex County Hospital .
His brother-in-law Don Scott, 61, also of Sompting, said his wife Bridgette, Mr Scott’s sister, were with him.
Mr Scott said: “We are obviously all very worried. We don’t know exactly what happened.”
Neighbour Emily Collins, 26, whose mother-in-law Brenda and husband Chris were among the people who rescued Mr Howard, said: “We heard an explosion and ran outside.
“We thought it was just glass breaking and then we saw what actually happened.
“Chris and the others ran in. They saw Michael lying in the hallway and dragged him out.”
Another neighbour, Lynda Holmes, added: “They are the heroes of the hour.”
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service incident commander Mark Ross said: “An investigation into the cause of the explosion and fire will now take place.”
He explained how neighbours burst into the home and rescued the man, leaving him outside on the pavement so paramedics could treat him.
A Sussex Police spokesman last night said: “We think it was a gas cylinder. One male was taken to hospital.
“His injuries are not life threatening although he is seriously ill.”
Mr Howard’s bungalow remained guarded by police last night.
The windows and windows of cars parked outside were blown out. Property including a charred photo frame with a picture inside were in the front garden.
A fire service spokeswoman said at least 45% of the property had been wrecked.
Detective Inspector Rob Walker said: "We believe this is related to a domestic incident at the address and there is no threat or risk to any member of the public.
"We are investigating the circumstances which led up to the fire at this property."
A 54-year-old man from Sompting has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. He was in custody today (September 21).
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