Arrests follow bus blaze

CELIA WIGG Two men were arrested yesterday at the scene of a fire that destroyed coaches and damaged a bus depot.

CELIA WIGG

Two men were arrested yesterday at the scene of a fire that destroyed coaches and damaged a bus

depot.

Police and fire investigation teams are working together to establish the cause of the blaze at Semmence Coaches premises in Norwich Road, Wymondham, which is believed to have been started deliberately.

The alarm was raised at 1.08am and fire officers alerted the police on arrival because of the suspicious nature of the blaze.

Four buses were destroyed, a fifth coach was badly damaged, and two others had their paintwork blistered in the intense heat.

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The fire also damaged a private workshop and car at the site, and an adjoining hedgerow.

Five fire crews were sent from Wymondham, Hethersett and Attleborough, along with a water bowser from Hethersett.

They fought for more than two hours to contain the blaze

which was finally extinguished

at 3.18am.

Norfolk Fire Service spokesman Martin Barsby said: "The fire crews did extremely well to stop the fire spreading through

gorse and bushes into a residential area."

Mr Barsby added that it had been the second 999 call they had received overnight reporting a fire at the site.

"We had a call to the Semmence site at 11.50pm.

"Two fire crews went but there was no fire. Then at 1.08pm another call was received and when the first crew arrived, there was a fire," he explained.

Brian Lafferty, transport manager for Semmence Coaches, said the damage ran into tens of thousands of pounds, but they had been able to continue their services as normal yesterday despite the disruption.

He said: "We are fortunate in that the incident didn't have any adverse effect on us at all.

"We carry an operational fleet plus some spares and we managed to keep to our operational requirements this morning and this afternoon, and we don't foresee any problems in the future."

The company has been based at Norwich Road since it was founded in 1922, and the coaches involved in the fire would have been used for local contracts and private hire.

Police spokesman Kristina Fox said they were alerted by Norfolk Fire Service at 1.20am. Officers attended the scene and, after making some initial inquiries, arrested two 24-year-old men from the Norwich area on suspicion of arson.

They were taken to Bethel Street police station in Norwich for questioning.