Tragedy fear over spate of Fenland fires

House fire in Wisbechh at the old Isle College Hortic site
House fire in Wisbechh at the old Isle College Hortic site

A spate of arson attacks on derelict buildings in Fenland could have tragic results if there are further incidents, police and fire chiefs have warned.

Witnesses are being sought in connection with two blazes in Wisbech and a separate incident in March over the last few days.

And police have also stepped up patrols in the Meadowgate Lane area of Wisbech, which has been hit by seven deliberately started fires in just three weeks.

Ian Cuthill, a crew commander for the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The people responsible for starting these fires have been very lucky they have not been injured themselves.”

In the latest incident, two units were called to tackle a blaze in a derelict building on Gaul Road, March, at around 5pm on Friday.

Crews spent more than two hours tackling the fire, which service chiefs believe was started deliberately.

That followed a similar incident at a derelict house on Meadowgate Lane, Wisbech, last Tuesday, where crews spent more than four hours tackling a blaze in which the building’s roof collapsed.

The day before, there had been another fire, also deliberately started, in a derelict building formerly occupied by the College of West Anglia.

And officials say there have been seven deliberately started blazes in the Meadowgate Lane area since April 27.

Although it is not known whether youths are responsible for the fires, Mr Cuthill urged parents to discuss the risks of fire and being in derelict buildings with their children.

He said: “Fire can spread quickly and cause buildings to become unstable and collapse. What can start out to be a bit of fun can have tragic consequences.

“There is also another consequence that people who deliberately start fires do not think about and that’s if our fire crews are tied up at a fire that has been deliberately started, it will take longer for someone to get a fire crew if they have an emergency where someone’s life may be at risk.”

Chief Inspector Dave Murphy, of Cambridgeshire Police, added: “We are increasing patrols in the area in an effort to target those responsible for the recent arsons.

“Apart from the obvious risk to people and property these incidents are understandably causing a great deal of concern within the local community.

“We are working closely with our fire service colleagues and we will ensure that anyone caught committing offences are prosecuted and brought before the courts.”

Anyone with information about any of the recent blazes is asked to contact police on 101.