Sat, 22 Oct 17:43:00 2011
Manchester City's build-up to the Manchester derby has received an unusual distraction after Mario Balotelli managed to set fire to his own house with a firework in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The Italian striker, who has a history of self-inflicted problems, was letting off fireworks in his bathroom with friends which then led to "a substantial fire" according to a report in the Guardian.
Balotelli is alleged to have told the club that he was letting off the fireworks out a window, when one of them caused a towel to catch fire which then quickly spread.
Balotelli is believed to have claimed that one of his friends let off the incriminating firework while at one point he is said to have run back inside the burning house to recover a quantity of money and a suitcase.
The Guardian quotes the fire service as saying: "Four breathing apparatus and two hose reel water jets were used to deal with the fire and a large fan was used to clear the smoke from the property.
"Crews managed to put the fire out within half an hour of arriving but remained at the scene until 2.45 am to prevent any possible flare-ups. Smoke alarms were fitted at the property and the occupiers were able to get out unharmed. The fire was caused by a firework."
A police spokesman added: "Police provided assistance to Cheshire fire and rescue service as well as ensuring residents were accounted for and there was no danger to surrounding properties. At this time, the cause of the fire is being examined by fire investigators and the police. However, it is not thought to be suspicious."
Balotelli, who has scored in each of his last four games, has since checked into a hotel with the City team ahead of Sunday's derby with Manchester United and trained with his team-mates on Saturday.