Manchester - Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was forced to flee
from his burning house after a firework was set off in his bathroom,
officials said on Saturday.
In what is yet another bizarre episode in the 21-year-old Italian's
career, police and fire crews were called to the striker's home in
Macclesfield shortly after midnight after the blaze broke out.
"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," a
spokesman for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said.
"Smoke alarms were fitted at the property and the occupiers were able to get out unharmed. The fire was caused by a firework."
The incident comes on the eve of City's eagerly-awaited Premier League
derby against Manchester United, with Balotelli reportedly in contention
to start after an impressive recent run of form.
The Guardian reported that Balotelli had trained as normal on Saturday
and told club officials that the blaze started when he and four friends
began setting off firworks through an open window.
The blaze inside the property started when a firework set bathroom towels alight, Balotelli is reported to have said.
Balotelli has regularly courted controversy throughout his career and
has been involved in several incidents since joining City in August
He was sent off twice in his first season and was also investigated over
an incident at City's training ground when darts were thrown at a youth
Mancini also substituted him after only half an hour of a pre-season
game against Los Angeles Galaxy for attempting a backheel finish.
Despite his various run-ins, Mancini had recently claimed Balotelli had a
"big improvement" in his behaviour, stating only on Friday that he was
"changing his mentality."