A MAN has been charged with arson and recklessly endangering lives after a fire destroyed the living room of a home on Portland.

Police questioned the 32-year-old in connection with the devastating blaze in Weston Street late on Saturday night.

Firefighters raced to the house believing someone was trapped inside but discovered everyone had got out safely after being alerted by a smoke alarm.

It is believed a pregnant woman was among the occupants at the address.

Neighbours say the force helicopter was scrambled and paramedics were also at the scene.

The house was cordoned off by police yesterday morning as forensic teams carried out an investigation.

The windows of the house were open to reveal a blackened room while fire-damaged debris was strewn in the garden.

Fifteen firefighters, including two crews from Portland and one from Weymouth, attended after getting a 999 call at 11.45pm.

The first fire engine was on the scene within a few minutes.

Crews tackling the blaze at the housing association-owned terraced house had the flames under control within 15 minutes.

Group Manager Steve Waller from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, who attended the incident, said: “Fortunately there were working smoke alarms within the property which activated.

“Dorset Fire and Rescue Service are conducting a joint investigation with Dorset Police into the cause of this serious fire, which has severely damaged the living room of this house.”

Acting Detective Sergeant Nick Lavery, of Weymouth CID, said: “Following a fire at an address in Weston Street, Portland, a 32-year-old local male has been charged with arson and recklessly endangering lives.”

Portland fire station Watch Manager An-dy Randell said: “There was a fire in the living room of a house.

“Initial reports said one person was inside but on arrival we found that everybody had got out.

“It is a terraced house so there was the danger that the fire could spread, we had the fire under control within 10 to 15 minutes.

“Our first fire engine was on the scene within three minutes and our second was there in four minutes and 30 seconds.

“It was a good response for the Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and the effort the crews put in stopped any further damage to other properties in the area.”

Firefighters were alerted to the fire by a neighbour who is believed to have heard the smoke alarm.

Another neighbour Thomas Jones, 42, said: “I came back home from my job as a carer and saw all the lights flashing from the emergency vehicles.

“There were fire engines everywhere and then the police knocked on my door about 3.30am.”

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “The police knocked on our door around 1am, asking if had we seen anything.”

Police said the 32-year-old man will be appearing before Weymouth Magistrates Court today.