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Warning of 'firetrap' dangers

PUBLISHED: 17:24 16 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:02 22 October 2010

Dereham's senior fire officer is warning that potentially-lethal firetraps in the town need to better secured after a disused factory was set alight for the fourth time.

Dereham's senior fire officer is warning that potentially-lethal firetraps in the town need to be better secured after a disused factory was set alight for the fourth time.

A makeshift skatepark in the old factory shop of the former Jentiques furniture complex at South Green was torched at about 10.30pm on Wednesday.

Nobody was caught in the fire and firefighters from the town managed to get it under control within 10 minutes.

The Jentique site and the Old Guildhall building off St Withburga Lane have become a magnet for fire starters in recent years, with at least seven arson attacks since they fell into disrepair.

Dereham fire station manager Mark Richardson said there was a serious risk that somebody would get trapped in a fire if the buildings were not properly secured and stressed the danger to children breaking into the sites.

The Jentique site has a security fence running around its perimeter and developer George Wimpey has begun preparing the buildings for demolition but work has been slowed by the need to safely dispose of drugs paraphernalia found inside.

The former Breckland Council offices at the Old Guildhall were also targeted two weeks ago when rubbish inside the buildings was set on fire.

Mr Richardson said: "Unless the building is fully pulled down these type of buildings are always going to be a target. They have started demolition on the Jentiques site now and it has been fenced off so they are doing all they can.

"Unfortunately there are other targets in town like the Old Guildhall - we have had three incidents there already and there is a lot of rubbish in there which could go up really quickly. There is fencing up but the site is not completely secure, the windows need to be boarded up and the doors screwed down.

"The Old Guildhall is a massive place and the potential for someone to get caught up in there with tragic consequences is immense."

A spokesman for Breckland Council said: "There have been incidents of arson at the Old Guildhall and we have been in touch with the owner and asked them to increase the security.

"We are aware of the dangers and are concerned about it but there is nothing we can do to compel them to do something about it."

A spokesman for George Wimpey said that its contractors were clearing the Jentiques' buildings in preparation for demolition but that they had been delayed by the need to dispose of hypodermic needles found on site.

"Our engineer on site will be looking to make sure we have covered every angle to secure the site and see if any extra precautions can be taken," she said.


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