Arsonists who set 20 fires around city “need to be caught”

Picture: Archant Library.

Picture: Archant Library.

A city fire chief has warned arsonists responsible for more than 20 fires around Norwich 'need to be caught' in the wake of a spate of attacks.

Residents and business owners in North and West Norwich in particular are being asked to be vigilant and come forward with any information following the rise in arsons.

Between September and December there have been more than 20 fires in the area, including two last night, which are believed to have been started deliberately.

Community protection officers from Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service are now visiting the area to advise businesses about steps they can take to help ensure their property is safe and less likely to be a target for arsonists.

Measures include keeping property secure, keeping waste away from the building - in secure compounds if possible - and away from combustible items. People are also advised to work with their neighbours and other local businesses to reduce the risk of being targeted.

Wheelie bins, commercial bins, skips, grass and fencing have been set on fire in the NR2 and NR3 areas. There have been several incidents in Heigham Street. Other streets where NFRS have been called to put out deliberate fires include: Dolphin Grove, Watson Grove, Swanton Road, Eagle Walk, Old Palace Road, Lefroy Road, Dereham Road, Vale Green, Paragon Place, Earlham Green Lane, Barker Street and Clifton Close.

NFRS's Norwich district commander Duncan Ashworth said: 'We have had to direct a lot of resources to tackle these fires, which means our crews are not available for other life threatening incidents. Even a small rubbish fire can lead to serious consequences, particularly in a commercial context as many businesses are unable to recover from an arson attack.

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'Thankfully no-one has been injured due to our intervention, however the outcome could have been much worse. Those starting these fires need to be caught before there is a more serious outcome.'

PC Jo Longstaff from Norfolk Constabulary said: 'We are working with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service to investigate these incidents and identify those responsible. I would appeal for anyone with information to contact police on 101. Arson is a serious offence which puts lives at risk and drains the valuable resources of the emergency services.'

Anyone who sees suspicious activity either before or after a fire starts, or has information about those responsible, can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.