- paying the price
lives - a suspected arson attack
Arson is the largest single
cause of major fires in the UK - it leads to death and significant financial damage.
The bold statistics are frightening - every week there are 2,000 arson
fires, two deaths, 60 injuries and a bill of £42 million.
the headlines lies another story - how a single moment of madness changes lives
- and rarely for the better.
The North West recently
saw one of its biggest fires ever with flames 100 feet high, temperatures hot
enough to melt steel beams, and roads closed as black smoke enveloped the area.
blaze at a DIY wholesale warehouse at Walkden in Manchester is being treated by
police as arson.
|"It was just reminiscent of what you see in the Blitz...
just total decimation."
|Risa Klyne, owner
The fierce heat caused the building to collapse, and an enterprise
covering nine acres was in ruins in as many hours.
For the owners - Risa
and Sammy Klyne - it was a personal and commercial disaster.
They set up
their multi-million pound business 20 years ago, building on their success with
A few weeks ago they'd just had one of their best weeks
Now all their hard work has been annihilated.
|ARSON FACT FILE
week in the UK:
* Twenty schools and colleges are damaged or destroyed
* Over 260 homes are damaged or destroyed by arson.
Three hundred and sixty businesses and public buildings are damaged or destroyed
In the last decade there have been around 2.4 million deliberate
fires in the UK, resulting in 1,250 deaths and 32,000 injuries.
research puts the cost of arson to the economy at £2.2 billion per year.
businesses never entirely recover losing orders, contracts, key employees,
or may going out of business.
Forty per cent of those prosecuted or cautioned
for arson offences in 2000 were aged 10 to 17.
Source: Arson Prevention
But it's not just the Klynes who are suffering
- they have a workforce of 80 people with families to support.
business lies in a crumpled heap, Sammy and Risa have hard decisions to face.
cause of the fire is still being investigated, but the Klynes have realised they've
no option but to lay-off 50 of their 80 staff.
The consequences, though,
don't stop there, as Sammy Klyne explains:
"The ripple effect - it
just keeps getting bigger and bigger... People would buy off us and their stores
were all dependent on my product. What are they going to do?
supplier has had to go down to a two and half day week because he can't send the
product in... there's nowhere for the product to go."
And Risa says
that the human cost can be equally devastating:
"It's not just about
a building burning down - it's about the effect on human beings - on people who
are decent, hard working, good people who come to work everyday.
put their hours in, they put their effort in, they put their energy into building
something, and then it's just destroyed - and it's just left a smouldering mass
"It's not just about a wrecking ball coming in on this
building, it's about a wrecking ball on people's lives."
spite of all the heartache and financial losses, the Klynes say that they're going
to come back bigger, better and stronger as a business.
Merseyside there were 16,000 malicious fires last year.
Now fire investigators
have a specialised and highly sensitive weapon to tackle arsonists - his name
is Floyd and he's a dog.
Dean Bolton from Merseyside Fire and Rescue is
Floyd's dog handler:
"We'll be called out by one of the
fire investigation teams and the role is to try and establish whether any accelerants
have been used to start the fire. In doing so we can determine whether it was
deliberate or not."
Floyd is trained to detect a list
of approximately the 12 most commonly used accelerants - from petrol right the
way through to barbecue lighter fluid, white spirit, odourless white spirit as
well as turps and thinners.
out the evidence - fire fighter dog Floyd
The dog and his
handler will search over the property and try to determine whether any accelerants
have been used.
If the dog's not able to detect anything, it cuts down
the working time for the fire investigator.
The investigator will then go
on to look for something else and try to discount other possible causes.
how successful has Floyd been?
"One hundred per cent - if there's
anything there he'll find it," says Dean Bolton.
Inside Out visits
a children's nursery at Halewood that has been badly damaged by arsonists - Floyd
and Dean will be the first investigators to go in.
Floyd's work rules out
petrol or other accelerants, so it's back to basic fire investigation.
For the parents with children at the Halewood nursery, the consequences
of the arson are already being felt.
"I'm disgusted - absolutely disgusted,
they don't realise what they've done," says Claire James.
destroyed an area for children... I've had to take a week off work to keep the
children at home obviously because the nursery isn't running.
as an effect, everybody is losing money, I'm sure it's not just me.
nursery is losing money, they're all losing money, and as parents we can't go
to work because we have no childcare."
month ago, Gordon Lord's world came tumbling down when someone set light to his
Littleborough pigeon loft and locked the doors.
|"I think about it when I'm going to sleep... It's like
a bereavement - it's like you've lost one of the family or something."
|Gordon Lord, pigeon loft owner
were 100 prize-winning racing birds.
Nearly all burned to death.
everything - I live for them - they were my life," he says.
devastating - you're thinking about it all the time. The day after I must have
come down here about five times, and I don't even know what for.
as the emotional trauma, there was also a financial loss.
The birds were
rare and each was worth at least £500 - the fire has cost Gordon £50,000,
and there's the prospect of another £10,000 to rebuild the coop.
it's not just the money.
"They should think what it means to people,"
the price - the wreckage of the pigeon loft
matter whether it's a works, or animals or whatever it is. The devastation is
the same for everybody.
"There was another case in Rochdale where
they burnt a pony - they sprayed petrol on its back legs and set fire to it.
those people know exactly what they're doing."
Gordon refuses to be
beaten by the arsonists. He's going to re-stock and carry on.
not going to give up because if we do, then whoever's done have won haven't they?
That's what their intention is - to hurt and family and stop us racing pigeons,"
Consequences of crime
Lancashire, there have been 800 arson incidents in 2006 alone.
through the wreckage after an arson attack
can be sent on a course to be taught about the danger of fire - and the consequences.
meet a young arsonist who has been through the course, and now has a job.
repentant about her involvement in the arson attack - we've agreed to conceal
"I was going out with a bad boyfriend at
the time. Things happened, and we just got a bit drunk. He'd had a row with someone
he knew and we decided to go down and set his car on fire.
me sometimes. Even now I've still got friends and some family that don't speak
to me, even though I've changed so much.
"And it does get me down,
and it really does upset me but I know that I've made myself better again and
I've pulled myself through it all. I've realised what I've done and I was stupid."
can face 14 years in prison but lack of evidence means fewer than one in 10 crimes
end in a conviction.
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