OFFICERS investigating an arson attack at flats in Blackburn believe it is linked with a man suffering a serious head injury during an assault.

Officers were called to a fire at the flats in Rothesay Road at 6.30am, where a 36-year-old man managed to escape by jumping out of a window, without suffering any serious injuries.

However officers were also called to Moorland Avenue, in Blackburn, where they found a 24-year-old man, from the town, with a serious head injury.

He was taken to hospital and remains in a serious condition.

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A 33-year-old man from Blackburn was arrested on suspicion of assault and remains in custody.

Enquiries are continuing.

Detective Inspector Andy Horne said: "We believe that these incidents are linked and we are treating them extremely seriously.

"It is only a matter of chance that no-one was seriously injured or even killed in the fire and a man is in hospital following the assault.

"I would like to reassure people that we have made an arrest and we are continuing to make enquiries.

"If anyone has any information which could assist I would urge them to get in touch."

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The fire is thought to have started close to the front door of the flat, and has damaged the stairs, spreading through to the flat below.

Linda Taylor, who has lived in the ground floor flat on Rothesay Road for around 12 years, said: "We heard a bang and my son came and woke me up and told me to get out.

"The fire has damaged the stairs and come through into the cupboard under our stairs.

"The smell is really bad and there was a lot of smoke.

"The fire service had to come into my house and it's a good job they looked in that cupboard as it was burning right through.

"My son said he heard someone running away from the house just after he heard the bang.

"The man upstairs had to jump out of the window and used my ledge to get down.

"When we heard the bang we thought someone had put his door through but then my son looked out of the window and saw the flames.

"We just panicked, it was quite scary. Whoever has done it has probably put something through the letterbox.

"The fire service were really quick at getting here though.

"We phoned the housing association but they can't repair the stairs until the fire service and police have finished the investigation.

"I want to leave the house now. I've been here a long time but I don't want to live here anymore if things like this are going to happen."

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting log 174 for the fire and 239 for the assault, or you can ring independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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