Family flees night-time arson attack

A COUPLE were forced to drag their three young children from their beds and fight through thick smoke to reach safety after arsonists started a blaze in a wheelie bin which then spread to their home.

A COUPLE were forced to drag their three young children from their beds and fight through thick smoke to reach safety after arsonists started a blaze in a wheelie bin which then spread to their home.

Michelle and Stephen Boggis were woken by a loud bang at around 3am on Saturday and got up to investigate - only to see flames rising from Ye Old Fish and Chip Shoppe, on Sudbury's Cross Street.

They quickly woke their three children, Courtney, seven, Cody, who will be three in April, and two-year-old Cassey before fighting their way to safety.

But the couple have now been left counting the cost of a clean up operation which, together with lost stock, they fear will run into thousands of pounds.

Mrs Boggis, who has run the business together with her husband for just over one year, said: “We had three kids in the house who were all screaming, so we dashed off to get them and get out. If something like that happens, you are just so frightened for your family.

“It was so dark and we had to go through thick smoke in the shop to get out. I won't forget it for a while as this was not just a business but also our home.

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“I am quite disgusted that someone could have done this to us. It is not something I would do to an animal. This was a commercial bin with very combustible waste and it was underneath gas and power mains. We are lucky the whole house didn't blow up.”

The shop, which has been on Cross Street for 80 years, was damaged by smoke and it took fire crews from the town just over an hour to bring the flames under control.

Mrs Boggis said the couple had reviewed arrangement for their waste after a neighbour's wheelie bin was targeted earlier in the year. However, despite locking their large trade bin every evening, arsonists still managed to set it ablaze.

“It has damaged the whole side of the premises and all the flues have had to be ripped out. The business is inoperative and we are totally gutted at the moment,” added Mrs Boggis.

“The whole shop was completely smoke damaged. Everything from the floor to the ceiling will have to be cleaned down and stripped out. All our stock has had to go as we cannot get the mains electricity back on. The cost is running into thousands at the moment,

“The children seem ok at the moment but they have been quite upset. Our seven-year-old has been a bit worried since, and will remember it for a little bit longer than the others. But we are a strong family and this will only make us stronger.”

The couple hope to begin operating the business again within the next few weeks - and were keen to thank staff who gave up their free time to help with the clean up.

Mrs Boggis added: “The staff have been excellent, coming down without notice to help. We would like to say a big thank you to all of them.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police confirmed the incident was being treated as arson and appealed for witnesses to step forward.

Anyone with information about the arson attack should contact Dc Dave Giles at Sudbury CID on 01284 774300.

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