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Arsonist fears after double blaze drama

PUBLISHED: 14:09 02 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

A GARAGE owner fears a serial arsonist could be wrecking havoc in Stowmarket, after a blaze at his garage during the early hours.

BY JOHN HOWARD and TINA HEATH

john.howard@ecng.co.uk tina.heath@ecng.co.uk

A GARAGE owner fears a serial arsonist could be wrecking havoc in Stowmarket, after a blaze at his garage during the early hours.

The fire broke out at Union Street Garage during the early hours of yesterday morning and has been described by the owner as like "losing my right arm'.

Meanwhile police believe a fire that wrecked a home in Hadleigh at the weekend was started deliberately.

Two vehicles, one a recovery truck, were gutted in the Stowmarket blaze and a customer's Mercedes was also damaged.

Brian Green, proprietor of the Union Street Garage, believes this is the latest arson attack in the town.

He said there have been a spate of car fires in Stowmarket and the blaze at his firm is just the latest.

His 24 hour recovery vehicle has been gutted and that side of his business has had to be put on hold whole he sorts out a new vehicle.

But he is open again today for the repairs and sales side of the business and is full of praise for the firefighters who stopped the blaze spreading to the garage itself and being event worse.

Fire crews from Stowmarket were among those firefighters who managed to stop the fire spreading from the vehicles parked outside the garage.

Mr Green, 51, said today: "It was arson, although I do not know why. There have been quite a spate of fires around Stowmarket, a car down in Combs went up in the early hours and I believe there have been a few others.

"If people are going round doing it for fun they could cause a major incident.'

One of the firefighters on the scene was Andrew Green, a mechanic who works at the garage and is a cousin to Brian.

Andrew Green, 34, of Combs Ford, said today: "The flames were 12 to 14 feet high when we got there.

"We have had several cars fires a few weeks ago. Cars do not catch fire by themselves.'

The police have launched an investigation because a preliminary investigation by the fire service suggested that the blaze could have been started deliberately.

"It's a devastating blow to the business," said Mr Green. "The building itself wasn't too badly damaged, but the vehicles were badly burned out.

"I'm on call for the police recovery so this incident is a real blow. We've never had anything like this happen before."

Meanwhile police today launched an arson investigation after a blaze which wrecked a cottage in Hadleigh and spread to a neighbouring home.

Burned-out furniture and debris still remained in the front garden of the Benton Street property several hours after Saturday night's fire.

Stephen Wells was in bed at the time of the fire and rushed outside his home to see flames licking up the back of the single-storey cottage which he only moved into at the end of May.

He said: "I was in bed and my wife thought she could hear raining. I went outside and the fire had taken hold and I called the fire brigade."

Mr Wells added he tried to put the blaze out by throwing water on it as he waited for firefighters to arrive, but that had proved fruitless.

"I don't know how long it had been going, but it took hold very quickly. There's nothing there really that could have started it off, there's only wheelie bins and boxes which I used when we moved in."

Mr Wells, his wife Gaylene and her parents were salvaging personal items for the couple to take with them to temporary accommodation in Sudbury.

The fire came on the day Mrs Wells' father Tony Casey and his wife landed at Stansted Airport after having the end of their holiday spoiled when they were delayed for two days in Menorca due to striking Spanish bus drivers.

The blaze destroyed the roof of the end cottage next door to Mr Wells' home and firefighters had to pull down the end gable of the terrace because of fears for the safety of the building. The electricity supply also had to be turned off because an overhead cable was attached to the gable.

Crews from Princes Street, Ipswich, one from Colchester Road and another from Sudbury battled for three hours to bring the fire under control.

Police tape was wrapped around the cottage and neighbouring period property to prevent anyone going back inside.

Writer Charles Burford, 36, who lives opposite the row of cottages, said: "I was in my garden at the time and smelt smoke. I looked over the wall and saw smoke coming out of the property."

Software engineer Nigel Mortimer, 45, who also lives opposite, said: "The cottage was already ablaze but the time I know about it. I don't know much about it other than the fact that it was pretty severe and took a good while to put out."

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