AN ELDERLY couple had a dramatic escape after an arsonist set their village home on fire.
The man and woman, aged 82 and 74, were rescued from their bedroom window in High Street, Castle Bytham, by neighbours at about 2am on Wednesday as their front room burned below them.
The couple were treated at the scene by ambulance crews and were taken to Peterborough City Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
They were discharged at 8am on Wednesday and are now staying with relatives.
The cottage was badly damaged in the fire and one of the couple’s dogs was killed, although their other dog escaped unharmed.
Police are treating the blaze as arson and are investigating other suspicious incidents in the village to see if they are linked.
Det Insp Dave Swan said: “It was lucky that the couple escaped from this blaze – especially considering the extent of the fire and their age –otherwise, we could now be dealing with a much more serious incident. As it is, their pet has died and their home has been extensively damaged. Anyone who can help with information about this incident to come forward.”
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, was woken by the couple’s cries for help.
He said: “I had only been in bed 10 minutes when I heard them shouting. Someone had already got a ladder up to the window so I helped the couple get down.
“The front room was ablaze, they wouldn’t have been able to get out any other way.
“I see them now and then around the village.They are the nicest couple I know.”
The couple are well known in Castle Bytham. A friend said: “We are devastated, we have known them for 28 years.
“I don’t understand why someone would target them like this. It’s a very sad day for the village. “You don’t expect something like this to happen here.”
Another villager added: “I heard the fire engines go past and heard them shouting for help. They are the most lovely couple. I feel sick thinking about it.
“I am just thankful they are safe. Who would do that to an elderly couple?”
Police are appealing for any information about the fire and are asking anyone who saw or heard any suspicious activity in the area to come forward and call 0300 111 0300, quoting incident 17 of May 4.