Palma.—The fire broke out at just before 8am and is thought to have been started by young British holiday makers who were playing with aerosols and a lighter outside on one of the balconies, but that has yet to be confirmed by fire investigators.

However, a total of 18 people had to be evacuated from the blazing building. Three were treated for the effects of smoke and a fourth person suffered minor injuries.

A number of children had to be rescued from the flames by fire fighters and there was a serious moment of tension when a father helped his young three-year-old son drop five metres to safety below.

The child escaped unhurt.

The fire is thought to have started in a third floor apartment and many of the inhabitants had to be rescued from their balconies because a thick column of smoke filled the main entrance and hall way preventing people from getting out of the main door.

First on the scene was a group of Calvia Council street cleaners and they helped rescue a father who was trapped with his two children aged three and six, it was his three-year-old that was caught by one of the Calvia Council employees although he injured his hand and back in the process of bravely saving the child.

Two other council workers helped the elder son escape using a ladder provided by some neighbours.

"People were screaming and shouting for help. There was a lot of tension," said a local shopkeeper, until the emergency services and fire fighters arrived. Fire crews from Santa Ponsa and Palma were involved in the operation with the support of the Local Police, the Guardia Civil and a fleet of ambulances and paramedics who feared the worse because of the thick smoke.

The police are now wanting to question the young Briton who may well have started the fire while playing with the spray can. He apparently works in a local pub and some of his friends , who were in the lounge at the time, have apparently confirmed that he was playing with the aerosol and a lighter on the balcony. "We don’t think he’s done a runner, but we do want to speak to him," Guardia Civil sources in Palma said yesterday.

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