Hunt for clues into arson attack begins

POLICE and fire cause investigators were today searching for clues to help them identify the arsonists who put the lives of firefighters in danger when they set fire to a warehouse and came close to causing an explosion.

POLICE and fire cause investigators were today searching for clues to help them identify the arsonists who put the lives of firefighters in danger when they set fire to a warehouse and came close to causing an explosion.

Crime scene officers were expected to be given access to the badly damaged vehicle maintenance building at Wetherden this morning when an exclusion zone was due to be lifted.

The exclusion zone was put in place after the fire broke out just after 1am yesterday when the owner of the property alerted fire crews to the presence of an acetylene cylinder in the building.

Firefighters from Elmswell, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Needham Market were called to tackle the blaze in the warehouse in the Wetherden business park.

Once they became aware of the presence of the acetylene, a highly volatile substance, they were forced to pull back and fight the fire from a safe distance because of the threat of an explosion.

Once the fire was brought under control a water jet was left in place in an attempt to cool the cylinder. It was left for 24 hours before it could be moved.

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Suffolk fire service said the cause of the fire was being treated as suspicious.

Laurence Mitchell, assistant divisional officer, said: “The fire was affecting the whole of the building by the time the first crews got there.

“It became apparent there was an acetylene cylinder in the premises. Because of the explosive nature and volatility of acetylene we had to fight the fire from a safe distance from the building.”

Mr Mitchell said the building was “extensively damaged”, as were up to four vehicles which had been inside.

The blaze followed an earlier fire in an end terrace house in Minsmere Way, Great Cornard, which left the property heavily smoke logged.

Four fire crews were called just after 6.30pm on Saturday and it was brought under control in 50 minutes.

And at 3.45pm on Saturday a fire broke out in a property in High Street, Tuddenham, near Mildenhall.

It was brought under control just after 4.35pm.

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