Ambulances targeted in arson attack

SHOCKED community leaders have condemned “depraved and sick” vandals who set fire to a fleet of frontline ambulances.The mindless arsonists completely destroyed one ambulance while vandals also smashed windscreens and emptied the contents of other vehicles during the sustained attack at one of East Anglia's main emergency services depots in Barton Mills, near Mildenhall.

SHOCKED community leaders have condemned “depraved and sick” vandals who set fire to a fleet of frontline ambulances.

The mindless arsonists completely destroyed one ambulance while vandals also smashed windscreens and emptied the contents of other vehicles during the sustained attack at one of East Anglia's main emergency services depots in Barton Mills, near Mildenhall.

Staff at the East Anglian Ambulance Service last night revealed that before they torched the ambulance the hooligans were believed to have been smoking and drinking inside the compound and they fear the attack could have been triggered by a desperate search for drugs.

The arson - in the early hours of Saturday morning - prompted an outcry from the community while ambulance chiefs moved to reassure the public that lives were not put at risk.


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West Suffolk MP Richard Spring said: “It is absolutely unimaginable that vehicles which are there to save lives should be destroyed.

“There is something utterly sick in the minds of people who wish to destroy an ambulance which saves people's lives and acts when people are in personal distress.

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“I cannot even enter into the mindset of people who have such a depraved way of life. But I must praise the ambulance service on the fact that their service was not impaired by this wanton act.

“I am sure they could never have imagined ambulances would be vandalised in this way but the fact the service is carrying on effectively and efficiently is a great comfort to the people of Suffolk.”

Four ambulances and a 4x4 rough terrain vehicle - used mainly at Newmarket Racecourse - were damaged sometime between midnight and 8am on Saturday at the site just off the A11.

Shocked staff found one of the vehicles still smouldering when they arrived for work on Saturday morning.

“Other vehicles had their lights and tyres melted and another ambulance had been ransacked,” said Steve Mitchell, manager at the site workshop.

“I don't know if they were looking for anything in particular - they might have hoped that certain drugs were in there - but nothing was taken.

“Initially I was very angry when I saw the damage and then confused as to why anyone would do this. It is just mindless, disgraceful vandalism.”

Matthew Ware, spokesman for the ambulance service, said: “These peoples' actions show a complete lack of regard for the emergency services, the work they do and the public.

“But we would like to reassure the public that this will not affect the service we provide. Fortunately we have more vehicles than we actually use, there are spare vehicles in the system.

“However, the people who did this did not know how many vehicles we had and as far as they are concerned, their actions could have seriously affected the service.”

Police are now investigating the attack and scene of crime officers were at the scene yesterday.

Mike Nunn, spokesman for west Suffolk police, said: “Police have been notified of the arson attack at the ambulance depot this weekend and are investigating accordingly.

“This is a particularly mindless act of vandalism which could have had far more serious consequences for the wider community.

“Scene of crime officers have been at the depot today and police are treating this matter extremely seriously.”

Anyone with information should contact Suffolk police on 01284 774100 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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