POLICE have launched an arson investigation after firefighters rescued an elderly man who became trapped in his High Wycombe home by fire.

Neighbours heard the 77-year-old man’s cries for help and called the fire service to the semi-detached property in Bookerhill Road last night.

Brave residents had already started to put out the flames when the crews from High Wycombe and Beaconsfield arrived just after 11pm.

Thames Valley Police confirmed it has launched an arson investigation. Officers believe an accelerant was used to start the fire at the front door.

Crew manager Phil Sears from Wycombe fire station said the man was fortunate to be alive and urged residents to fit smoke alarms in their homes.

He said: “The man was unable to get out of his front door, but neighbours heard his shouts for help and called 999.

“There were no smoke alarms in the house, but fortunately he was still up when the fire broke out. Had he been asleep upstairs, it is highly likely that he would have been overcome by smoke and lost his life.

“It is vitally important to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, and to test them once a week.”

The fire crews from High Wycombe and Beaconsfield helped him out of the house and into the care of volunteers from the British Red Cross.

He was later taken to hospital while firefighters cleared the smoke and fitted smoke alarms in the house.

Contact police on the 101 enquiry line with any information about the fire.