FIREFIGHTERS helped a homeless man after a teenager set fire to his possessions.

A man who had been living under a bridge at the junction of Rupert Street and Lever Edge Lane, in Great Lever, found a bag containing everything he owned had been set alight.

The incident happened at about 10.15pm last night after the man had left his bag in some bushes.

When he came back, it was on fire and he saw a young man running from the scene.

When firefighters were called to Rupert Street to put out the blaze, they found him in a distressed state.

Bolton central crew manager Phil Dearden said: “Someone had set fire to the man’s bag of clothes, which contained virtually all his possessions apart from what he was wearing.

“After we put the fire out he was quite upset, so we stayed with him.”

Firefighters decided to call in the Community Risk Intervention Team (CRIT) – a new team run jointly by fire, police and North West Ambulance Service – which is currently running in Salford and Wigan but also covers the surrounding areas.

The team has links with social services and was able to help the man replace the clothes and possessions which had been destroyed.

He was also referred to Bolton-based charity Urban Outreach, which helps rehome homeless people.

Crew manager Dearden added: “The emergency phase was over but this man was out in the cold and had nothing, so we stayed with him until the CRIT team came.

“Rather than having a fire engine remain with this man we requested the team, meaning we were able to make the crew available in case we got another fire.

“A lot of people have not heard of the CRIT team and may not realise that for us it is not just about putting out the fire and then leaving people – we have avenues we can go down to help further.”