‘Heartbroken’ Exmouth woman speaks after arson attack on her allotment shed

PUBLISHED: 10:40 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:24 05 May 2020

The damage caused by a deliberate fire at allotments in Exmouth in Sunday,  May 3. Picture: Dawn Witkiss

The damage caused by a deliberate fire at allotments in Exmouth in Sunday, May 3. Picture: Dawn Witkiss

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A fire which ripped through a converted summerhouse at allotments in Exmouth has left its owner ‘heartbroken’.

Two sheds were 'deliberately' set on fire in Exmouth. Picture: Sally Jane BarlowTwo sheds were 'deliberately' set on fire in Exmouth. Picture: Sally Jane Barlow

Dawn Witkiss woke up on Sunday (May 3) morning to discover her shed at the allotments in Hamilton Lane was a ‘melted mess’ following a deliberate fire.

The blaze ‘completely destroyed’ two sheds on the Withycombe Raleigh site – one belonging to Mrs Witkiss.

Police said they are treating the incident as arson and an investigation has been launched into the fire and the theft of tools from another shed on the site.

She told the Journal the fire melted the frame of her greenhouse and it’s going to cost between £1,500 and £2,000 to replace both.

The damaged done by the fire at the allotments in Hamilton Lane. Picture: Dawn WitkissThe damaged done by the fire at the allotments in Hamilton Lane. Picture: Dawn Witkiss

Mrs Witkiss said there was ‘nothing salvageable’ from the shed which was also used to teach her Beaver Scout group.

She added: “Our neighbour had a smaller shed and that was already out by the time the firefighters got there – we’ve just got melted piles of stuff now.

“The damage is heart-breaking – I don’t think they realise the impact they have caused and the damage they have done.

“It’s a mess – all the clear-up we’re going to have to do.

The damaged done by the fire at the allotments in Hamilton Lane. Picture: Dawn WitkissThe damaged done by the fire at the allotments in Hamilton Lane. Picture: Dawn Witkiss

“I wish they could come and see what they have done.”

She also said the allotments have had break-ins before, but the fire has left her wondering if her ‘heart is in it anymore’.

Two fire appliances from Exmouth responded to reports of a fire at the allotments in Hamilton Lane at around 6.45am on Sunday.

Firefighters said two sheds were ‘completely destroyed’ after being deliberately set on fire.

The damaged done by the fire at the allotments in Hamilton Lane. Picture: Dawn WitkissThe damaged done by the fire at the allotments in Hamilton Lane. Picture: Dawn Witkiss

Fire crews extinguished the fire using one hose-reel jet.

A police spokesman said: “The fire started in a shed sometime between 4am and 7am.

“Police are treating the fire as arson and appealing to anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious to contact them via 101@dc.police.uk or by phone on 101, quoting crime reference CR/035534/20.

“Additionally, another shed on the allotment was broken into during the same time period and tools were stolen.”


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