Pensioners' lucky escape after arson

PENSIONERS had a lucky escape after waking in the early hours of the morning to find a blaze threatening to engulf their house.

PENSIONERS had a lucky escape after waking in the early hours of the morning to find a blaze threatening to engulf their house.

Fire bugs struck three times in quick succession in Hadleigh on Saturday morning.

The most serious blaze destroyed a shed outside a house in Meadows Way, with the flames also damaging the house, a tree and a nearby parked car.

Homeowner David Walmsley, 71, was woken at 2.30am by the smell of burning and discovered his shed on fire and the flames spreading to his home.


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He tried to tackle the flames, throwing water against them, but the strength of the fire was too great and was finally extinguished by firefighters.

Mr Walmsley, who ran a dry cleaning shop in the town until retiring, said: “I thought I could smell burning or something peculiar.

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“I could hear the flames going and I bolted downstairs and initially tried to chuck water at them. Margaret, my wofe, had her mobile phone upstairs and called the fire brigade.

“A further 10 minutes and it would have been all along the roofs and affecting the whole block.”

Mr Walmsley praised the efforts of the firefighters and the police who had attended the scene and urged anyone who could help identify the arsonists to make contact with the police.

He said: “I'm positive because I think 'I'm alive' and I thank God for that but in the main, I have just got to get on with it, really.”

As well as the incident in Meadows Way, a pavilion was also damaged by fire in Pykenham Way and there was a serious rubbish fire in an alley between Churchill Avenue and Bradfield Avenue.

All the incidents were within about 200 metres of each other, all happened between 2.15am and 2.45am on Saturday morning, and all are being treated as suspicious.

A police spokesman said detectives were appealing for help from the public as they investigate the incidents.

She said: “Between 2am and 2.40am on Saturday morning a shed outside a house in Meadows Way was set alight. The fire spread to a fence, a tree and the eves of the house causing a window to smash. The house was smoke logged and the gas main was damaged, causing a leak which has been repaired.

“The fire service also attended two further small fires in Hadleigh at around the same time.

“Police want to hear from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in this area of Hadleigh between 2am and 3am.”

Anyone with information about the crimes can contact Detective Constable Tim Wheatley of Sudbury CID on 01284 774100 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 8088 555111.

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