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Police investigate series of arson attacks in Cheltenham

By Michael_Yong  |  Posted: March 25, 2014

By Michael Yong

  • Trees at Cambray Close

  • Trees at Cambray Close

  • Gloucestershire Police

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Police are looking witnesses to come forward after three arson incidents in Cheltenham earlier this month.

The first fire took place around 3am on March 16 at the car park of Cambray Court.

Four 30-ft tall pine trees outside homes and offices were set on fire.

The heat from the fire caused damage to several cars in the car park and on the street.

There was also a bin fire in nearby Rodney Road.

And only an hour later, the arsonists were at it again, setting fire to a property in Coltham Road, causing extensive damage.

Police officers have linked the two incidents, and are already investigating a third.

The third attempt was made on the same night to set fire to a garden shed and outhouse, which were at a house in Cirencester Road, Cheltenham.

The second incident was only yards away from Rosehill Street, where a gas explosion shocked the entire area in 2012.

A spokesman for the police said: “We're investigating whether all these cases are linked.

“Clearly, it's a cause for concern. These fires were started very close to people’s homes and could have put lives and properties at risk.

“Therefore, we would like the community’s help in finding those responsible.

“If anyone sees anything suspicious, they should call the police.

“And if anyone knows who is behind these incidents, we would urge them to come forward.”

Councillor Paul McLain (C, Battledown), said he was shocked at the news.

He added: “Fire is very difficult to control, and I’m sure these incidents were very distressing for the people who live near there.

“Coltham Road is the next street [Rosehill Street] where we had that awful gas explosion a few years ago.

“What must be going through these people’s minds, I just don’t know.

“Hopefully police will be able to catch those responsible. Arson is such a dangerous thing, especially when residents are asleep.”

Councillor Garth Barnes (LD, College) said: “I am absolutely appalled anybody would do that. It’s not just damage to property, but a real risk to life as well.

“The fire could have caused widespread problems. There are CCTV in the area, so I hope police will be able to find the people who have done this.”

Geoff Sallis, deputy chief officer, said: “Gloucestershire had a number of deliberate fires last year, with any one of these having the potential to draw fire engines away from other emergency calls.

“Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service work hard with partners to reduce all deliberate fires across the county. Fires, no matter how small they start, have the potential to grow and grow quickly. Not only does this run the serious risk of destroying property, but it puts lives in danger.

“As always, we will also continue to work with Gloucestershire Police to help reduce this criminal activity.”

Anyone with information should call the police at 101, quoting incident 72 of 16/3/14.

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