Terrified residents of a Mitcham flat have told how they threw their pets out of windows to save them from a ground floor blaze.

Neighbours were forced to throw their dogs and cats out of an upstairs window to save them as the choking black smoke took hold this morning.

Firefighters from Mitcham and Norbury were called to Mitcham Park at about 10.30am where they tackled a fire in a ground floor flat.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Smoke damage to windows and curtains was visible from outside the property and a smouldering sofa and blankets could be seen outside the home which has been sub-divided into flats.

A police cordon remained around the property this afternoon as investigations into the blaze continue.

Amy and Lauren Macdonald live opposite the flat which was devastated by fire.

Amy said: "We got woken up by banging on the door by another tenant.

"We opened the window and threw our animals out - we have two dogs and cats.

"They didn’t know what was going on.

"I came out of the front door.

"I was scared."

Another resident who did not want to be identified said the man who lived in the burnt out flat had only moved in about two days ago.

The tenant said: "It had been refurbished recently.

"I opened my door and there was black smoke coming out.

"I had to shut the door it made me choke.

"I couldn’t see if there was a fire."

He said he went downstairs and the flat was scorched and blistered from the heat.

The flats are privately rented and the stressed-looking landlord was on the scene close to Mitcham tram stop as police officers carried out their investigation today.

Miraculously nobody was hurt.

A 40-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.

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