Neighbours call for suspected arson attacks in Portsmouth to end - before somebody dies

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WORRIED neighbours say a ‘tragedy is waiting to happen’ after another spate of suspected arson attacks in the north of Portsmouth.

Over the past year, a number of what police and firefighters believe to be suspicious fires have been investigated in the Cosham and Hilsea area.

15/12/2014 (CF)''EK Auto Ltd in Hilsea, suffered a suspected arson on two vehicles on Monday.''Pictured is: The scene at EK Auto Ltd.''Picture: Sarah Standing (143544-8850)

15/12/2014 (CF)''EK Auto Ltd in Hilsea, suffered a suspected arson on two vehicles on Monday.''Pictured is: The scene at EK Auto Ltd.''Picture: Sarah Standing (143544-8850)

Yesterday morning, an outbuilding at the former Salisbury pub in Salisbury Road, Cosham was damaged by fire.

And two other blazes broke out on Sunday night in Military Road, Hilsea, where a garage was severely damaged. Meanwhile, two cars were destroyed at a garage nearby in London Road.

There were also suspected arson attacks in Cosham on garages in Hilary Avenue, Beaconsfield Avenue and Lonsdale Avenue at the end of October. And a shed was set on fire in Pitreavie Road last month.
Residents are now
calling for the incidents to stop, fearing the fires could spread to people’s homes.

Eileen Peaston, 69, from Rosebery Avenue, Cosham wants a neighbourhood meeting.

15/12/2014 (CF)''EK Auto Ltd in Hilsea, suffered a suspected arson on two vehicles on Monday.''Pictured is: The scene at EK Auto Ltd.''Picture: Sarah Standing (143544-8846)

15/12/2014 (CF)''EK Auto Ltd in Hilsea, suffered a suspected arson on two vehicles on Monday.''Pictured is: The scene at EK Auto Ltd.''Picture: Sarah Standing (143544-8846)

She said: ‘I’m not happy about it. I do think now is the time to get something done before something really serious happens. Last time it was so close to people’s back doors. There are quite a lot of elderly people around here.

‘A tragedy is waiting to happen if it isn’t stopped in time. If we could get a loud alarm system, that would wake up the rest of the neighbourhood.

‘I would be frightened if I woke up and saw all these flames and smoke. I think we have got to do something now.

‘It’s a worrying problem and I think quite a few people are worried about it.

15/12/2014 (CF)''EK Auto Ltd in Hilsea, suffered a suspected arson on two vehicles on Monday.''Pictured is: The scene at EK Auto Ltd.''Picture: Sarah Standing (143544-2525) PPP-141215-162021001

15/12/2014 (CF)''EK Auto Ltd in Hilsea, suffered a suspected arson on two vehicles on Monday.''Pictured is: The scene at EK Auto Ltd.''Picture: Sarah Standing (143544-2525) PPP-141215-162021001

‘The question is – where are they going to strike the next time? That’s the worry. When is it going to end?

‘Hopefully it doesn’t end in tragedy. If something isn’t done there will be a family or an elderly person who will be trapped in a fire.’

Tim Suffolk, 73, from Lonsdale Avenue in Cosham had his garage set fire to.

He added: ‘It’s very disturbing to everybody in the area. The great question is: what can be done? We need to catch this person before it goes too far.’

According to the Police UK website, which shows reports of crimes by road name, 18 criminal damage and arson offences have been reported in Lonsdale Avenue and immediate surrounding streets between December 2013 and October 2014.

Crew manager at Cosham fire station, Ian Sales, said: ‘It is an area where we have had issues with an arsonist over the last 12 to 18 months.

‘Because of the location and there have been three fires in such a short space of time, there is going to be an investigation. All three of the fires are suspicious and are in such close proximity to each other.’

A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: ‘The exact cause of the three fires is still being investigated at this time but they are being treated as suspected arsons. We are also looking at if they are connected with other arsons in the area earlier this year.’

Free home safety checks

Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service have issued a plea to residents to tell them if they have any concerns about fire safety in their home.

Cosham station manager Bruce Gordon said: ‘If residents are concerned about fire safety in their home, following these attacks, Cosham Fire Station is happy to offer a free home safety check to Cosham residents.

‘To discuss and arrange a visit please call our community safety team on 02380 626809.’