Pensioners forced to flee home

A SUFFOLK pensioner couple were forced to flee their home in the early hours of the morning after arsonists torched a nearby shed.

A SUFFOLK pensioner couple were forced to flee their home in the early hours of the morning after arsonists torched a nearby shed.

The fire was one of three believed to have been started delibrately within 200 metres of each other near the centre of Hadleigh.

The most serious blaze destroyed a shed outside a house in Meadows Way, with the flames also damaging the house, a tree and a nearby parked car.

Homeowner David Walmsley, 71, told of his lucky escape after waking up at 2.30am on Saturday to the smell of burning coming from downstairs.

He tried to tackle the flames, throwing water against them, but the strength of the fire was too great and only firefighters, who been called by his wife Margaret, 69, could put them out.

Mr Walmsley, who ran a dry cleaning shop in the town until retiring, said: “I thought I could smell burning or something peculiar.

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“I could hear the flames going and I bolted downstairs and initially tried to chuck water at them. Margaret had her mobile phone upstairs and called the fire brigade.

“A further 10 minutes and it would have been all along the roofs and affecting the whole block.”

Mr Walmsley praised the efforts of the firefighters and the police who had attended the scene and urged anyone who could help identify the arsonists to make contact with the police.

He said: “I'm positive because I think 'I'm alive' and I thank God for that but in the main, I have just got to get on with it, really.”

As well as the incident in Meadows Way, a pavilion was also damaged by fire in Pykenham Way and there was a serious rubbish fire in an alley between Churchill Avenue and Bradfield Avenue.

All the incidents were within about 200 metres of each other, all happened between 2.15am and 2.45am on Saturday morning, and all are being treated as suspicious.

A police spokesman said detectives were appealing for help from the public as they investigate the incidents.

She said: “Between 2am and 2.40am on Saturday morning a shed outside a house in Meadows Way was set alight. The fire spread to a fence, a tree and the eves of the house causing a window to smash. The house was smoke logged and the gas main was damaged, causing a leak which has been repaired.

“The fire service also attended two further small fires in Hadleigh at around the same time.

“Police want to hear from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in this area of Hadleigh between 2am and 3am.

“Anyone with information about the crimes can contact Detective Constable Tim Wheatley of Sudbury CID on 01284 774100 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 8088 555111.”

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