A man who was spotted minutes after starting a fire at flats in Mansfield, has been jailed for two years.
Sean Wood (30), was seen by a police officer on foot patrol in Newgate Lane as he climbed out of a window where smoke was escaping.
The officer forced open a door and put out the fire.
He alerted a woman in one of the flats and she got out safely, Nottingham Crown Court was told.
A second officer was called to the scene just after 6.30pm on 11th February and heard Wood say he had been woken by smoke.
Wood pleaded guilty to arson reckless as to life, but claimed the fire had started accidentally.
When interviewed later he said his cigarette lighter was not working and he lit a piece of paper on his electric fire.
Then on the way to the bathroom he threw the paper over the landing thinking it would have gone out.
He dozed off on the sofa and woke to the smoke, he said. He was in the flat above the woman’s flat.
The prosecution claimed Wood’s story was not true. He deliberately lit the fire either by throwing lighted material or by going down to light a fire behind the door.
Suspicions were raised because there was damage to the carpet and bits of burnt paper were found, but there was no damage to the letter box.
After hearing evidence in the case in June Mr Justice Royce found that Wood had started the fire intentionally.
The judge sentenced him to two years for the arson and a month concurrent for a separate offence of theft.