Suffolk

Fisons: String of arsons revealed at fire-ravaged factory

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Media captionA fire on 6 May destroyed the former Fisons fertiliser factory

Arsonists struck six times in the five years before a Grade II-listed building was ultimately destroyed by fire, new figures reveal.

The former Fisons factory near Ipswich was gutted on 6 May by a blaze fire bosses say is still unexplained.

Campaigners for the preservation of the derelict fertiliser factory said the repeated arsons made a serious fire "more or less inevitable".

Paper Mill Lane Properties, the site's owner, was approached for comment.

Suffolk police investigated the 6 May fire as arson but said it had "exhausted all lines of inquiry".

Image copyright Sky Cam East
Image caption A total of 60 firefighters were called to the blaze in Paper Mill Lane

The arson figures were released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

They showed that of the nine fires Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service attended at Paper Mill Lane, Bramford, between May 2014 and May 2019, seven were started deliberately.

Three of those were "primary" - more serious incidents where people or buildings were at risk - and included the 6 May fire, and a large blaze in April 2018.

Kelvin Dakin, who has campaigned for the site's protection, said it had deteriorated due to trespass and vandalism.

"As it occurred over the last three years, it became more and more obvious there was going to be a serious fire," he said.

Suffolk police received at least 16 calls about the site in the same period, including 13 reports of trespass and others of criminal damage, fireworks being let off and windows being smashed.

The site was given the go-ahead for 176 new homes in 2014, though that permission it ran out in April.

Mid Suffolk Council won a court order in January forcing Paper Mill Lane Properties to make the north warehouse roof safe, but fire broke out before the enforcement deadline of 28 July.

The council said it is working with the owners to make the site safe and protect listed buildings during demolition work.

Griff Rhys Jones, president of the Victorian Society, called the building, which dates to 1858, an "irreplaceable" piece of history.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The buildings, seen here before the fire, had fallen into disrepair since the factory shut down in 2003

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