Petrol was used to start fire at Hemel Hempstead block of flats

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Residents had to flee a block of flats in Hemel Hempstead after an arson attack, a jury heard on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

Cars that were parked outside Octagon House in Nash Green were also damaged in the blaze on ten past four in the morning on Saturday, April 24, 2021.

Prosecutor Christopher Harper told Luton Crown Court: “Neighbours had to get out because they thought their homes were going to burn down.”

At Luton Crown Court Bulgarian Nikolay Natov, 36, of Nash Green, denies arson with intent to endanger life and an alternative charge of reckless arson.

Mr Harper alleged he started the fire after falling  out with his brother. He said a “load of sentimental items” had been removed from the flat and placed in a car before the fire began.

“Someone had saved items, knowing there was going to be a fire,” he said.

A fire investigation was carried out which found that the blaze had been started deliberately. Fire investigation dogs sniffed out four areas in the lounge where an accelerant had been used.

Petrol was found at the scene, along with a two litre empty water bottle, which it is alleged had Nikolay Natov’s DNA on.

When questioned by the police, with the aid of a Bulgarian interpreter, Nikolay Natov made no comment, but in a prepared statement he said he had nothing to do with any arson.

Case proceeding