Fire Brigade renews arson warnings after blaze wrecks charity shop

Stop ArsonCLEVELAND Fire Brigade today hit out at callous arsonists who wrecked a Middlesbrough charity shop and it issued a further reminder on how the public can protect themselves and their property against them.

The warning comes after the Mind shop in Middlesbrough’s Linthorpe Road was badly damaged in the early hours of Wednesday 28th August after a wheelie bin was deliberately set alight in the back street behind the premises.

The fire spread to the flat roof at the back of the shop, causing severe damage to the structure of the building and completely destroying the stock. Smoke damage was caused to the two adjoining premises.

Cleveland Fire Brigade and its partners have been running a Summer Arson Prevention Campaign under the banner of ‘Stop Arson – Enough Is Enough’, advising people on how they can help reduce the risk of deliberate fires and asking them to report any suspicious activity.

In 2012/13 there was a massive reduction of 54% in incidents of arson. Despite this decrease, seven out of ten fires across our area are still caused by arson and they cost the people of Cleveland over £10 million a year.

Martyn Petrie, the Brigade’s Watch Manager (Arson Reduction) for Cleveland, said today: “Arson has a devastating effect on people’s lives and property and it is especially despicable when the victim is an organisation which is dedicated to helping other people.

“We have a zero tolerance approach towards arsonists and continue to work with Cleveland Police to investigate, catch and prosecute them.

“Working together we can all put a stop to arson. If anyone has any information about this or any other arson incident, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or call the Police on 101.

“We also operate a Community Call-back Scheme, in which the Fire Brigade will ring back callers who initially reported the fire, to gather from them any further information which can be used as part of the fire investigation.”

He also urged people once again to follow the following safety advice to help protect themselves and their property:

For businesses:

  • Use refuse containers at all times – don’t leave black bags of rubbish or other waste material outside as they attract arsonists and vandals.
  • At the end of the business day, wherever possible bring any refuse containers inside your building.
  • If your refuse containers are outside, make sure they are at least six metres away from buildings. This will help prevent damage to your property if there is a fire in the containers.
  • If your refuse container has a lockable lid, make sure you lock it. If you haven’t got a lockable refuse container, consider getting one.
  • Make sure that your refuse container doesn’t overflow with rubbish. If this is happening regularly, change your container for a larger one or buy an extra one.

For residents:

  • Ensure your wheelie bin and black bags are not left lying around.
  • Put your wheelie bin or black bags out on the day of collection and then your bin should be brought back in as soon as possible.
  • Your wheelie bin or black bags should be kept in a secure place.
  • If you are throwing out old furniture or other household items call your Council to arrange a collection and keep them in a secure area until the collection takes place.
  • If you are using a skip for building work or rubbish removal, try to fill it and remove it on the same day. If not, ask the skip hire company for a skip with a lockable lid and position the skip at least six metres from your home.
  • Never put hot ash in your wheelie bin.

The Fire Brigade has produced a video to highlight the devastation caused by arson – it can be viewed at www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/arson along with other campaign information.