SLEEPING residents were shocked when they were awoken by an almighty explosion in the early hours.

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life after the incident in Oxford Street, Brighton, yesterday morning.

One witness described hearing a loud explosion before seeing large flames which “went over the top of the roof” of a house in the street.

She said the blaze was “fast and furious” and had “decimated” the back of the building.

The Argus:

Fire crews and police attended the scene, with the force “treating the incident like a crime scene” as officers sought to establish what had happened, she added.

But the witness commended fire crews who were “there within minutes”.

She said: “It was incredible how quickly fire crews attended, and amazing that nobody was hurt.”

A cordon remained around the scene throughout yesterday.

A spokeswoman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “At 12.06am, firefighters from Lewes, Roedean, Brighton and Hove attended a fire in a garden on Oxford Street, Brighton.

“Crews used four Breathing Apparatus and two Hose Reel Jets to extinguish the fire.

“Firefighters also used an aerial ladder platform to ensure that the fire had not spread to the property’s roof space.

“A fire investigation is due to take place today.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “At about 12.10am on Wednesday police were alerted by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to a fire at an address in Oxford Street, Brighton.

“The fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported.

“Following enquiries, a 29-year-old man from Brighton was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

“He has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

“Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to report it online or call 101, quoting serial 12 of 13/05.”