FOUR people were rescued after fire swept through a first-floor flat in Bideford on Sunday afternoon. A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson, but later sectioned under the provisions of the Mental Health Act. Fire fighters from Bideford, App

FOUR people were rescued after fire swept through a first-floor flat in Bideford on Sunday afternoon.A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson, but later sectioned under the provisions of the Mental Health Act.Fire fighters from Bideford, Appledore, Torrington and Barnstaple fought the blaze at Westcroft Court, off Meddon Street.The fire, on the first floor of the block, trapped two occupants on the floor above. Fire fighters arrived to find a man and a woman leaning from a second-floor window to try to escape the heat and smoke and brought them to safety down a ladder. They were taken to hospital suffering the effects of smoke inhalation.A man and a disabled woman were also taken to safety from the ground floor.Disabled Susan Carrick told the Gazette how a neighbour came to warn her of the fire in the flat above her and asked if she wanted to get out. At first it did not seem that bad, but then the fire brigade arrived and put up a ladder outside her kitchen window and she heard glass smashing."I heard a boy and a girl come down the ladder. The girl was screaming," she said. "Then the firemen came in and said I would have to get out."Firefighters carried Susan out in her wheelchair. But she would not go without her pet, Cheeky the cockatiel - so the rescuers carried him out, too.The pair were reunited at the home of neighbour Barbara Tattersall, who provided teas for those displaced by the outbreak. Mrs Tattersall told how her daughter's partner, 22-year-old Dominic Syvret, did what he could to help."Dominic saw the smoke and called the fire brigade. Then he went and shouted up to the flats and tried to force the door, but was beaten back by the heat and smoke.""Someone then smashed the window of the upstairs flat, but they could not get down. The fire brigade came and they got them out on the other side of the building."Bideford Fire Station Officer David Slade said: "The man and woman in the second floor flat were becoming overcome by the smoke and were threatening to jump. But firefighters managed to calm them down and they were brought out by ladder. They were given oxygen until an ambulance arrived."The properties are owned and managed by the Devon and Cornwall Housing Association.