A woman was rescued from a burning house after a suspected arson attack.

Firefighters rescued the woman from a bedroom at the rear of the home in Oakdale Close, South Oxhey, on Monday night.

Witnesses described seeing huge flames and thick black smoke in the moments before firefighters arrived.

Neighbours ran to nearby properties to ensure everyone had escaped.

A section of the roof flats, collapsed and firefighters said severe damage had been done to the property which has been converted into two maisonettes.

Fire investigators visited the house yesterday and police are now treating the cause of the fire as suspicious.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “The fire had started in the doorway and it went up the stairs.

“A couple of people went out to make sure everyone got out. Someone shouted through the doorway but could not hear anything.

“We presumed the house was empty because we couldn’t hear any screaming.”

Olive Blair said: “I heard a loud bang. I looked out the window and saw the flames coming out of the front window.

“All the neighbours came out to see what was happening. If the woman needs any help I am sure the neighbours will rally around and help. The firefighters were absolutely fantastic. They were here so quickly and they stopped it from spreading too far.”

Another neighbour, who also asked not to be named, said: “There was lots of smoke coming out of the windows at the top of the house.

“It is really scary that something like this happened."

Detective Constable Paul Burton said: "Thankfully, no was seriously injured during the incident, but significant damage has been done.

"Following initial investigations, the cause of the fire is now being treated as suspicious and I am appealing for anyone with information about the incident to get in touch.

“Did you witness anyone acting suspiciously in the area around the time stated?"