Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Arson attack at industrial estate

A TEENAGE boy was arrested on suspicion of arson after a blaze at an industrial estate.

A TEENAGE boy was arrested on suspicion of arson after a blaze at an industrial estate.

Three disused portable cabins were burnt out in the fire at Highlands Farm, off Greys Road, on Thursday afternoon last week.

Witnesses reported seeing 20ft high flames coming from the cabins, which are used to be used as football changing rooms.

Wendy James, a manager at Bridges Home Care, which is based at Highlands Farm, was leaving work at about 5.30pm when she saw the fire.

“It was really going well,” she said. “Three fire engines arrived. The firemen cut through the fence to get to it. By the time we left they were starting to douse the flames.



“I think some youngsters were seen leaving shortly beforehand and I think some youths had been seen there messing about over the last few weeks.” Four fire crews from Henley, Reading and High Wycombe were called to tackle the blaze.

Incident commander Adam Summers, from Henley fire station, said the cabins were well alight when his crew arrived.

He said: “You could see the flames as you turned into Highlands Farm from the end of the road.

“Getting across the site took time as we had to get through locked gates and a fence to get to where the cabins were. When we got across we used two hose reels and two main jets to extinguish the flames.

“It probably took an hour to put the fire out because we had to find water on the site. Altogether, we were there for about two hours, including damping down to make sure the fire was fully extinguished.

“Two of the cabins were destroyed and one was very badly damaged. The two did not have much left of them because they were wooden framed and obviously burned quite well.”

He added: “We suspected it could have been arson because of the scale of the fire and it looked like it had been set alight rather than caught alight.”

As the firefighters tackled the blaze, a National Police Air Service helicopter based at RAF Benson was scrambled to help locate the youths seen earlier.

Thames Valley Police said a 14-year-old boy had been questioned and was released on bail until April 2.

Highlands Farm, which is owned by Henley developer Alan Pontin, has been earmarked for 170 new homes in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and an outline planning application has been made by housebuilder Crest Nicholson. Mr Pontin’s son Ben, who manages the site, said he had spoken with a group of youths he found near the cabins three months ago.

He said: “I confronted them and told them, and to tell their friends, not to come back because it was private property.

“For a couple of months I did not see anybody and then suddenly this happens.”

Mr Pontin put the fence up to stop the cabins being accessed from a nearby field and boarded them up.

He said: “It’s hard to fence off the boundary of a field because they can get through the hedge. Now this has happened they will know not to come back.”

Mr Pontin said the cabins were “completely devastated and unusable”.

“They were last used as changing rooms by Associated Asphalt when they played football five or six years ago,” he said.



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