Arson puts lives at risk, Exmouth firefighters warn

PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 June 2016

Archant

Arsonists who stopped town-based firefighters from tackling a serious flat fire are being warned malicious pranks could put lives at risk.

The stark message comes after Exmouth firefighters were forced to call for back-up from Exeter to put out the town centre flat fire - because they were clearing up a deliberately-started blaze a short distance away.

While Exmouth firefighters were just minutes away, putting out a malicious fire at Phear Park, crews from Topsham and Middlemoor - stationed up to 10 miles away - responded to the flat fire.

The arson fire – a jumper set alight beneath a skate ramp with aerosol cans thrown on top – was the cause of a 10-minute delay in the out-of-town fire crews reaching the Exmouth flat blaze.

Nathan Lapwood, an Exmouth fire station watch manager, said it was lucky no one had been injured by the forced delay.

He said: “It’s a further 10 minutes for a fire to develop, before any intervention, which could be the difference between life and death.

“It could be the difference between a fire developing and not.

“Obviously, the more time goes on without intervention, the more damage and the more risk to life and property.”

Mr Lapwood said a recent spate of arson attacks in Exmouth had prompted the fire service to speak out.

He said: “We had kids in the skate park in Phear Park who set light to a jumper underneath one of the ramps. Then they threw aerosol cans on it. Aerosol cans can explode and seriously injure somebody.

“While we were at the incident in Phear Park, there was a serious flat fire in Exmouth.

“Because we were already committed at the park incident, they had to wait for appliances from Middlemoor and Topsham.

“Nobody was injured, but the delay could have made it more serious.”

Mr Lapwood said the park arson attack was one in a series of deliberately-started fires, including a gorse fire on The Maer and a fire in a derelict outbuilding at a property at Foxholes - where the flames spread to the main house.

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