Arsonists strike again in Hadleigh

ARSONISTS are believed to have caused a blaze which saw a river of burning diesel sweep through a yard in Hadleigh today leaving a trail of burnt and melted debris in its wake.

ARSONISTS are believed to have caused a blaze which saw a river of burning diesel sweep through a yard in Hadleigh today leaving a trail of burnt and melted debris in its wake.

A fire is believed to have been started deliberately in a diesel store at Fountains' yard, off Pykenham Way at 12.30am – it's the latest in a series of fires in the town as police and firefighters fear a serial arsonist may be at work.

The Hadleigh blaze came less than 24 hours after a devastating fire all but destroyed the former Burton's offices near Ipswich Waterfront.

Investigators are still not clear about the cause of that blaze – but the area is used by vagrants and drug users.

When firefighters arrived at the Hadleigh fire they were faced by a wall of flames as burning liquid ran through the yard, setting light to a tractor, a skip, a fence and a container as it went.

Neighbouring properties, including the business's larger storage shed, escaped severe damage but the heat of the flames also damaged two trucks and a second container kept in the yard.

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The cost of the destruction caused by the blaze is thought to amount to tens of thousands of pounds.

Assistant Divisional Office Paul Seager said: "A crew from Hadleigh arrived and described it as well alight with a running liquid fire. The diesel tanks had ruptured and the leaking diesel was flowing down the yard.

"They were faced with a wall of flames with approximately 1,000 litres of burning diesel. Sixty foot of fence was going as well as a container and a tractor."

Due to the ferocity and severity of the fire, assistance from Nayland was called for. Firefighters battled the flames for an hour until it was under control.

No one was injured in the fire, despite the risk of flammable liquids and gas cylinders in the containers exploding. However the extent of the damage was clear today with the burnt, charred and melted remains of the destruction stretching across one end of the yard.

Fountains' manager Ray Brooks knew nothing of the fire until he was alerted by an employee at Babergh Council.

He said: "I had a phone call at 6.30am saying they'd heard on the radio that my yard had been in a fire.

"There's been extensive damage caused by the fire and the heat it generated. Even the small things – chain saws, blowers and other little stuff – are melted.

"It's just so annoying."

Fountains has used the Hadleigh yard for seven years, and although it has been broken into in the past, this is the first time there has been a fire.

Mr Brooks is trying to stay optimistic, however, and is waiting for the loss adjusters to assess the damage.

And he is thankful that despite the damage the business can still operate.

He said: "Thank goodness we managed to get out and cut the grass today."

ADO Seager said: "This was totally reckless. Whoever did this never stopped to think of the possible consequences."

Meanwhile investigations into the cause of an inferno near Ipswich docks are continuing today.

More than 40 firefighters tackled the blaze at a derelict building in College Street in the early hours of yesterday.

The roof of the building, which was previously used as offices by Burton's confectioners, caught fire at 2.45am.

Assistant Divisional Officer Carl Francis, based at Princes Street fire station confirmed investigations between the police and fire service were continuing.

He said: "The fires we have had in the premises do tend to indicate they're likely to be malicious fires."

It is believed to be the fourth or fifth fire at the property – a well known haunt for vagrants and drug-users – in the past week. All of the fires are believed to be of doubtful origin.

Yesterday's blaze was under control just after 5.30am but firefighters remained on the scene for most of the day damping down, removing loose tiles and making the area safe.

Congestion built up in College Street as both lanes of the one way street were initially closed. One lane was re-opened later in the morning.

The inferno was the second building near the docks to be destroyed by fire. Two years ago St Peter's Warehouse, known in the town as Paul's, went up in flames and later collapsed.