Police quiz man over furniture shop fire

DETECTIVES are today quizzing a man after a blaze at a furniture store which caused thousands of pounds of damage.Up to 30 firefighters from Ipswich, Holbrook and Felixstowe were called to tackle the blaze which ripped through the Eastwitch furniture shop in Norwich Road, Ipswich, yesterday afternoon.

DETECTIVES are today quizzing a man after a blaze at a furniture store which caused thousands of pounds of damage.

Up to 30 firefighters from Ipswich, Holbrook and Felixstowe were called to tackle the blaze which ripped through the Eastwitch furniture shop in Norwich Road, Ipswich, yesterday afternoon.

Shop owner Irene Fountain was left in a state of shock after the fire engulfed the premises at the junction of Norwich Road and Bramford Road, destroying the second hand furniture inside at around 1.45pm yesterday.

Several surrounding roads were blocked off for hours, causing traffic chaos across the town.

The fire is being treated as suspicious and a 45-year-old man from Ipswich was arrested on suspicion of arson after Ms Fountain's son 31-year-old Michael gave chase to the suspect, before dragging him to the store.

Ms Fountain, who owns two other second hand furniture shops - Eastwitch and Moonwitch - a few doors away, was renting the space to store excess furniture, but had already given her notice to the owner and was due to move the goods to a warehouse. They would have then been sold at car boot sales.

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The 56-year-old told how she spotted a man sitting on one of the sofas outside the shop and when he tried to get inside, she refused, saying the shop was not open.

As she went to her other shops nearby, she realised someone had got inside and hurried back to tell them to leave.

It was then that she noticed some smoke and the man left, crossing the road, heading down Bramford Road on a bicycle.

Ms Fountain said: “We were in the process of clearing it out for it to be taken to the warehouse, so no one was allowed in the shop.

“My daughter and I saw all this smoke coming out. It has completely gutted the place.

“I am still in shock. What worries me is that my daughter could have been in there. There is a lot of wood so it spread very quickly. It is probably worth £2,000 and it was not insured.”

Sub officer Chris Gibbs from Princes Street said: “The fire is being treated as suspicious. Police and the fire service are investigating the incident.

“We sent in four teams with breathing apparatus, put out the fire and ventilated the area. The ground floor was affected by fire and the upstairs flat and two properties next door were also affected by smoke.”

Motorists were warned to avoid the area as parts of Norwich Road were closed until rush hour as well as Cumberland Towers, Bramford Road, Chevalier Street and the YMCA.

If you can help police with their investigation, call 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Have you ever experienced an arson attack? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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