Arsonists continue to cause devastation despite Cleveland Fire Brigade's summer campaign (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Arsonists continue to cause devastation despite Cleveland Fire Brigade's summer campaign
A SPATE of suspected arson attacks has caused thousands of pounds worth of devastation across Teesside in the last few weeks.
The latest incident happened on Wednesday evening when a blaze ripped through Grade II listed Kirkleatham Hall stable block, at Redcar, which dates back to the early 1700s.
On Tuesday evening a wheelie bin was set alight at the rear of shops in Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, which resulted in the Mind charity shop being gutted by flames.
And a fortnight ago, three fishing jetties at Hemlington Lake, in Middlesbrough, were destroyed when arsonists targeted them.
Cleveland Fire Brigade has 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 the 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: “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.”
The latest building to suffer fire damage was part of the stables at Kirkleatham, which are owned by Redcar and Cleveland Council. The buildings were placed on English Heritage’s “Heritage at Risk” register last year.
Since the demolition of Kirkleatham Hall in 1954, the condition of the stables, along with Grade I, II and II* bastions, ha-ha walls, gate piers and gatehouses, has deteriorated, leading to grants of around £500,000 to help save it in 2011.
Local historian and chairman of the Trustees at Sir William Turner's Almshouses at Kirkleatham, Peter Sotheran has spoken of his disappointment at the latest attack.
He said: “The damage is not as bad as first feared but it has completely destroyed the roof of the building, which is absolutely terrible. This is the third time 20 years that the building has been damaged by fire so hopefully this will encourage the council to bring it back into use.”
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