Man arrested after fire-hit taxi firm in Gorleston suffers another blaze

Shed fire at Ocean Cabs, Gorleston. Photo: Ocean Cabs

Shed fire at Ocean Cabs, Gorleston. Photo: Ocean Cabs - Credit: Ocean Cabs

A taxi firm plagued by arson attacks has suffered another fire, less than two weeks after the last blaze.

Shed fire at Ocean Cabs, Gorleston. Photo: Ocean Cabs

Shed fire at Ocean Cabs, Gorleston. Photo: Ocean Cabs - Credit: Ocean Cabs

The last three incidents at Ocean Cabs, in Riverside Road, Gorleston, had all been in vehicles.

This time a shed used for storing spare parts was destroyed, but manager Lesley Martin said it could have been much worse.

Mrs Martin said: 'There could have quite easily been gas bottles inside the shed, which in turn could have taken out all the units and devastated all three businesses and worse could have killed the firefighters.'

As well as Ocean Cabs, Autotune garage and furniture shop Twice Around are also based at the site.

Ocean Cabs arson attack. Co-owner Joe Kitchen with the burnt out cars.
Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Ocean Cabs arson attack. Co-owner Joe Kitchen with the burnt out cars. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017


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Previous fires were being investigated by police, and CCTV was examined.

It all started on March 18, around 7pm. Mrs Martin said: 'On the CCTV, a man walks round with a cap on and a hood up, and sets fire to a VW campervan.

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'On the weekend we have someone upstairs in the office and luckily a passerby called up to them and we were able to put that one out ourselves, although we still called the fire brigade with it being a vehicle.'

The following Saturday, March 25, a man appears on CCTV again between 9pm and 9.15pm.

Ocean Cabs arson attack.
Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Ocean Cabs arson attack. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

'You see him walk up and back again, but then you see me follow him out and chase him because I recognised him from the CCTV before,' Mrs Martin said.

He managed to get away, but Mrs Martin then received a phone call to say their vehicles were on fire. In this incident, the firm lost one taxi and one staff vehicle - plus two vehicles belonging to customers of the garage based at the same site.

Finally on Sunday, April 16, the same man appeared on the CCTV and another taxi was set alight.

'Luckily, one of our taxis drove past and the driver called over and we immediately called the fire brigade and police. That time the vehicle was a write off,' Mrs Martin said.

This time, fire crews were called at around 10.40pm yesterday, April 27. A crew used main and hose reel jets to extinguish the fire.

'As a local business, it affects us terribly,' Mrs Martin said. 'In this building there are three businesses, Autotune, Ocean Cabs and Twice Around. So basically everybody is terrified.

'We employ 20 people and if this is to carry on and we lose any of the businesses, it affects not only us but people's employment too, it's not good for us and it's not good for the local area.'

Norfolk Police confirmed they had been called to the fire last night, and had arrested a 59-year-old man from the Gorleston area on suspicion of arson in connection with yesterday's incident.

He was due to be questioned by officers this afternoon.

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