Police arrest man after blaze at bank

PUBLISHED: 15:14 26 April 2007 | UPDATED: 10:19 31 May 2010

Saffron Walden firefighters discuss the blaze.
Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Saffron Walden firefighters discuss the blaze. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

POLICE are remaining open-minded as to whether a serial arsonist is terrorising Saffron Walden following the torching of the Lloyds TSB bank at the weekend. A 20-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of arson and released on bail until late July p

One of the blackened windows.

POLICE are remaining open-minded as to whether a serial arsonist is terrorising Saffron Walden following the torching of the Lloyds TSB bank at the weekend.

A 20-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of arson and released on bail until late July pending further enquiries after the incident which occurred at about 3am on Saturday.

The blaze at the King Street bank is the latest in a series of arson attacks that have alarmed the police and fire service over the last four weeks.

Insp Kevin Wakefield said: "We're keeping an open mind as to who's responsible for these attacks.

"As to whether we have a serial arsonist on our hands, we are taking it very seriously.

"Everything is being considered, from whether there is one or two people doing this to whether they are linked, and it's being treated as a very high priority."

A woman living in a building near to the bank raised the alarm when she heard breaking glass.

Fire crews from Saffron Walden attended the scene along with colleagues from Newport, Thaxted and Harlow.

Saffron Walden fire station officer Paul Curtis said: "As soon as we turned the corner we realised it was too big for us to tackle on our own.

"The whole ground floor was on fire, but luckily the fire doors had done their job and prevented the blaze from spreading too much upstairs.

"We sent in 12 firefighters with breathing apparatus, who worked extremely hard to stop the fire spreading into adjacent buildings and we were there until midday, then returned at 3pm to cool some hot spots.

"Because it was a bank, fire crews had real difficulty getting through the building once inside and had to use battering rams."

A police operation was mounted in the early hours of Sunday morning and a Saffron Walden man was arrested.

Insp Wakefield added: "The man is on bail and all our enquiries are ongoing."

A Lloyds TSB spokesman reassured customers there would be minimal disruption to their banking during the repair of the King Street branch.

He said: "We're setting up a temporary branch on The Common, which should be ready from Monday. Staff from the King Street branch will be transferred to the temporary building."

There are Lloyd's TSB branches in Haverhill and Great Shelford, and customers can withdraw cash and pay in cheques at Post Office branches.

# Police also arrested two 14-year-old Saffron Walden boys last week in relation to the bin fires in Tukes Way, Harris Yard and Church Field last Monday night.

One is on police bail pending further enquiries and the other was released without charge.

A 52-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of arson and released on bail following an attempt to set fire to some newspaper in a bin in Elm Grove, hours before the Lloyds TSB blaze.

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