Six beach huts in Walton-on-the-Naze ravaged by fire
Six beach huts in an Essex seaside town have been ravaged by fire after a blaze last night.
Three huts have been destroyed and three others have been badly damaged following the fire in Walton-on-the-Naze.
Two fire crews from Frinton attended the blaze at Pier Approach at 10.49pm and managed to extinguish the fire within 20 minutes.
The crews made sure the area was left fully cooled and safe before leaving the scene.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown.
The incident follows a blaze in August last year, when three beach huts in Walton were destroyed by fire.
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Firefighters were called to South View Drive on August 4, and spent over an hour extinguishing the blaze.
The Beach Hut Owners Association of Walton said its morning patrol the next day revealed a number of other huts have also been vandalised or broken into – prompting fears the fire was set deliberately.
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Essex Police has confirmed the incident is being treated as arson.
Noreen Stoker, chairwoman, said something needed to be done about security.
“This has been ongoing. During September we have had a number of huts broken into and nine severely damaged – it’s thousands of pounds of damage being done,” she said.
“Our members are justifiably very angry and upset at the amount of vandalism that has taken place.
“We patrol the huts every day, even Christmas Day, reporting back to owners of any damage and boarding them up until repairs happen.
“We have asked for the help of police and Tendring District Council and security of some form. We have worked with the PCSOs but they get called away on other duties, and there seems to be very little response from the council.
“We would love the council to put CCTV in, we have asked for a few years now. The response is that the cameras don’t necessarily pick up people if they are wearing hoodies – but the fact is at the moment we have absolutely nothing and we have no chance. I am sure we would benefit from cameras.
“There are more than 600 huts at Walton and they pay site licence fees that make the council quite a lot of money, but nothing has been done in the way of security.
“I would urge anyone with a damaged beach hut to report it to police via 101 or online so it is logged as an incident otherwise it does not reflect the crime that is happening.”
Mick Skeels, district councillor for leisure and tourism, said: “We are aware of the association’s call for CCTV to be put up. We have looked into this on a number of occasions and are not satisfied this is the answer.
“There are more than 3,000 beach huts in Tendring and it would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to cover them all with cameras. That is simply not possible.
“We do understand how upsetting this is for owners and we will clear the sites for them, although technically it is their responsibility.”
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