Arsonists put lives at risk' says officer

PUBLISHED: 16:04 19 April 2007 | UPDATED: 10:19 31 May 2010

Two wheelie bins were set alight in Harris Yard, causing damage to nearby cars and houses - Pic: ESSEX FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

Two wheelie bins were set alight in Harris Yard, causing damage to nearby cars and houses - Pic: ESSEX FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE

ARONSISTS are putting lives in danger in Saffron Walden, with 12 fires having been deliberately started in the town in just three weeks. Police and fire crews are becoming increasingly concerned by the fires and fear that if the spate of arson attacks doe

ARONSISTS are putting lives in danger in Saffron Walden, with 12 fires having been deliberately started in the town in just three weeks.

Police and fire crews are becoming increasingly concerned by the fires and fear that if the spate of arson attacks does not stop soon the consequences could be dire.

Saffron Walden fire chief Paul Curtis said: "It's very unusual to get deliberately started fires in Saffron Walden.

"We normally have around six in a year, but we've now had 12 in the last three weeks, all of which are being linked."

The fire crews at Saffron Walden were called out to four incidents on Monday night, three of which are believed to have been the work of arsonists.

At about 11.45pm they were called to assist a crew from Newport in tackling a house fire in Duddenhoe End that is believed to have started when the occupants left candles burning on the kitchen table.

The Saffron Walden station officer said: "Fortunately the house had working smoke alarms installed, which saved the lives of the father and son who were in bed at the time.

"The fire was more or less out by the time we got there as the father had tackled the blaze with a hosepipe - not something we recommend, but in this case he saved his property."

While the house fire was being tackled, the fire service received reports of a fire in Church

Field, Saffron Walden. Recycling bins at the back of a property had been ignited.

Shortly afterwards, at around midnight, the crew was called to a fire in Tukes Way, Saffron Walden, where bins had been pushed up against a garage and ignited. They were joined by crews from Thaxted and Stansted.

Mr Curtis said: "Because we'd been tied up already, the garage caught fire, and shortly afterwards a gas main ignited.

"Fortunately there was no explosion, but fire crews were there until 5am making the area safe. A woman living in a house in the street was rendered temporarily homeless after her house filled up with gas."

The fourth incident of Monday night happened at around 12.45am, when a large fire was reported in Harris Yard, Saffron Walden.

Two wheelie bins had been ignited and the heat from the fire had damaged nearby cars and houses.

Mr Curtis said: "These culprits need to stop now before this escalates and someone gets hurt, or worse, loses a life.

"The pubic need to remain vigilant and, where possible, make sure your bins are away from buildings to minimise any potential risk."

Police and fire investigation officers are looking into the incidents.

PC Richard O'Mahony said: "This series of fires is being taken very seriously. It's a worrying trend, and particularly dangerous due to the bins' proximity to buildings."

Anyone with information should call PC Gary Wort on 01799 513232.

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