Bus depot blaze may be arson

BOSSES at a Suffolk bus company are this morning counting the cost after a fierce blaze ripped through their depot forecourt – writing-off thousands of pounds worth of vehicles.

BOSSES at a Suffolk bus company are this morning counting the cost after a fierce blaze ripped through their depot forecourt – writing-off thousands of pounds worth of vehicles.

Two single-decker buses and one double-decker, together worth around £125,000, were completely gutted in the fire early yesterday, which investigators are treating as suspicious.

Extensive damage was also caused to a further three vehicles parked at the First Eastern Counties' depot on Cotton Lane in Bury St Edmunds after the flames spread quickly through fibreglass and aluminium. Fortunately, no-one was injured as a result of the incident.

The fierce blaze was discovered by the last driver to leave the premises following a shift on Saturday night.


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Fire crews from Bury, Ixworth and Wickhambrook attended, and were forced onto the site from the rear through Eastgate Street as parked buses blocked the best route to the flames.

Drivers who live locally were also quickly drafted in to move any threatened vehicles, giving firefighters better access to the seat of the blaze.

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But officials have pledged the fire, which happened shortly after midnight, will not affect services for passengers using First Eastern buses throughout today.

"This will not affect services, as we have got vehicles coming in from other sites to provide cover," said Len Holland, engineer and director at First Eastern Counties.

"In one way, we are lucky someone was still here and noticed the fire, and we are very pleased no-one was hurt. Vehicles, after all, can be replaced and repaired.

"We are disappointed this has had to happen in the first place, but the rest of the company has rallied round to assist."

Assistant Divisional Officer Ali Moseley, of Suffolk Fire Service, was called to the scene to investigate, and said the blaze was being treated as suspicious.

"Three vehicles were totally destroyed and completely burnt out because they are made of fibreglass and aluminium, which burns very well and supports combustion," he said. "A further three vehicles sustained significant damage, in the region of 40-50%, from the heat of the fire.

"We believe the blaze developed quickly, and the member of staff who called the fire service was potentially in danger, and could have found himself trapped in the bus depot.

"The crews faced a difficult job, as they could not gain access because the forecourt was completely full of buses, but they did well to contain the blaze.

"Although this incident is still under investigation, it is being treated as suspicious."

Suffolk police are now appealing for anyone in the Cotton Lane or Eastgate Street area of the town between 12.00am and 12.20am to contact CID officers on 01284 774100, quoting crime reference number BU/03/4487.

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