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Hadleigh: Investigation into fire continues

PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 November 2012

Police investigate in the aftermath of the fire at Ukay Fuels Limited depot in Hadleigh

Police investigate in the aftermath of the fire at Ukay Fuels Limited depot in Hadleigh

Archant

POLICE investigating a massive blaze which turned three fuel tankers into a fireball and threatened to ignite 50,000 litres of fuel are keeping an “open mind” about whether the incident is linked to a string of arson attacks in Hadleigh.

An investigation to track down those responsible for the blaze at the Ukay Fuel Limited storage depot on Lady Lane Industrial Estate began on Saturday.

Police announced they were treating the fire – which destroyed all three tankers including one containing high levels of kerosene and oil gas – as suspicious.

Last night, police said they were not directly associating the incident with an attack in the early hours of Friday, when one van and two cars were found engulfed in flames in Raven Way – or to three minor arson attacks in the town last month.

But Detective Inspector Nick Power added: “We’re not linking the arson on Friday night to any other recent incidents in the area at this time but we are keeping an open mind.

“Arson is a reckless act that we take very seriously and officers are currently examining evidence and conducting enquiries to identify offenders.”

Town councillors expressed disbelief at the scale of the fire, but insisted residents should be reassured by the level of police activity in the wake of the incident.

One of them, Penny Cook, added: “Although we have a problem historically in Hadleigh with arson, we have never felt unsafe. It’s obvious though that something like setting fire to oil tankers is on a scale that we have never experienced before.

“But since the incident, residents should be reassured that Hadleigh has been swarming with police and that they are doing everything they can to catch whoever is responsible.”

Meanwhile, UKAY Fuel chief executive Anthony Iameo praised fire crews for averting what could have been a “major disaster”.

He said: “We have three big storage tanks on site but thankfully the fire service managed to contain the blaze and prevent the biggest tank from igniting and potentially blowing up. We are extremely grateful for that.”

He added that the company was now battling to get heating fuel out to elderly clients who desperately needed it now that the weather had turned cold.

“When something like this happens, it’s not hurting us as much as it is the community we serve, who are relying on us for fuel,” Mr Iameo said.

“The police and fire investigators have been working over the weekend gathering information and it is likely that this depot will be out of action for at least a week.

“The most important thing for us is to get the deliveries out so we have tried to minimise disruption by drafting in a vehicle from another depot.”

Police have renewed their appeal for information and are urging potential witnesses to call 101. Det Insp Power added: “Even a small piece of information could prove vital to the investigation.”

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