Community in shock after fire horror

POLICE were today continuing to question a man as a town dealt with the aftermath of a series of suspected arson attacks which destroyed and damaged 12 vehicles.

Rebecca Lefort

POLICE were today continuing to question a man as a town dealt with the aftermath of a series of suspected arson attacks which destroyed and damaged 12 vehicles.

Nine cars and three caravans were damaged by fire in Manningtree in the early hours yesterday, prompting a hive of activity as police and firefighters rushed to the scene and neighbours gathered to discuss the unusual events in the normally quiet town.

As reported in yesterday's Evening Star, there were scenes of destruction across several streets following the fires.


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Today residents told of their shock over the damage to their property.

Frances Harris, 40, of Malthouse Road, said her six-year-old son Adam was devastated after seeing the family's caravan go up in flames - and added that their next holiday in just three weeks time had been cancelled as a result.

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She added: “My husband got up because he could see an orange ball of light.

“He looked out of the window and saw our caravan on fire.

“The fire service turned up and then a chap came running down from up the road and said his car was on fire so another fire rescue was called out for them.

“Just after the police and fire crew had gone another car exploded just down the road and two more caravans across our road.

“It was a nightmare. We cannot believe this would happen in a quiet place like Manningtree.”

Mrs Harris's caravan was the first vehicle to be torched, at shortly before 2am.

A few minutes later, police were called to a car fire in Oxford Road where a Peugeot 106 had been set alight.

At around 3.30am while police were making enquiries, three other fires in Manningtree were reported in the space of ten minutes. Two caravans and a hedgerow in Hilton Close were set alight, a garden fence was on fire in Alma Square and in Stour Street a Vauxhall Astra was found burnt out alongside a badly fired-damaged Mercedes A160.

The fire had also caused damage to an adjoining building.

The final report of fires came shortly before 4.30am when two cars were set alight in a public car park in Kiln Lane, with a further three sustaining fire damage. These vehicles were a Citroen Berlingo, Nissan Vanette, Renault Megane, Ford KA and a Fiat Punto.

A 44-year-old man from the Manningtree area was arrested by officers a short time later on suspicion of arson and was being held for questioning today.

- Were you affected by the fires? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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