Arsonists left fire service stretched

FIREFIGHTERS have today condemned arsonists who set fire to bins leaving the service too stretched to send the usual amount of crews to a house fire.

FIREFIGHTERS have today condemned arsonists who set fire to bins leaving the service too stretched to send the usual amount of crews to a house fire.

Reserve crews from Princes Street fire station had to be sent to a chip pan blaze in Millfield Gardens because two other crews were tackling bin fires started by firebugs next to Holbrook House and Greenwich flats in John Street, Ipswich.

And fire safety officers have also highlighted the importance of smoke alarms after neighbours of the Millfield Gardens property were alerted to the fire by an alarm and called the brigade - potentially saving the owner's life after he fell asleep leaving a chip pan on.

Ian Bowell, community safety manager for Suffolk Fire and Rescue service said the arsonists had put lives at risk.

He said: “Because people deliberately started two fires in another part of Ipswich, some of our resources were being used when we got this second call.

“Princes Street crews went to Holbrook House and while they were dealing with that, we got another call to Millfield Gardens.

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“These arsonists not only put residents in Holbrook House at risk, but also the man in the property at Millfield Gardens.

“Normally we would have had three crews to send to the second incident, but instead we had to send the retaining crew because two of them were committed.”

Mr Bowell said the man who lived in the Millfield Gardens property in the California area of Ipswich had had a lucky escape.

He said: “The fact that there was a smoke alarm and the neighbour heard it could have potentially saved the person, who was in the property, either from serious injuries or worse. The chip pan was just at the moment of ignition. Had we not got that early call, it would have caused a problem.

“I appreciate accidents happen where people have a lapse in concentration but people should not leave any cooking appliances unattended. You should also make sure you have a working smoke alarm because it is your only warning.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue offers anyone free home safety advice. Those more vulnerable will also receive home safety checks and free smoke alarms.

If anyone would like some advice, they should call 01473 260586 or 260588.

Have you ever been saved thanks to a smoke alarm? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk