Crowland arson spree ‘like the Blitz’

Attacked: John Eley's blazing Rover 75 that was targeted on Saturday. Photo: Peter Bird
Attacked: John Eley's blazing Rover 75 that was targeted on Saturday. Photo: Peter Bird
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Police are probing three arson attacks that left the centre of Crowland looking like “a scene from the Blitz”.

Two cars were set alight – one outside a thatched cottage – along with wooden pallets and magazines in a loading bay behind Lincolnshire Cooperative’s West Street store.

The fires were lit at about 2.15am on Saturday.

Neighbours woke businessman John Eley, from East Street, who rescued his second car, which was parked beside his blazing Rover 75.

Mr Eley said: “The main worry was, I suppose, it’s a thatched cottage – which was a big worry – but the fire brigade came along and put it out.”

Police say the fires are connected and are urging anyone who knows anything to speak to Spalding CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Police recovered torched cars from Crowland for forensic tests, but say the answer to who started the fires “lies within the community”.

Insp Jim Tyner said: “We are treating these incidents as connected.

“We always treat arson seriously because of the potential for harm or significant damage.

“Crowland is a close-knit community and it is likely that the solution to who caused these fires lies within the community.

I urge anyone with information to come forward.”

One of Mr Eley’s neighbours, Peter Bird, stood in his bedroom and photographed the Rover on fire and a blazing line of fuel leaking along the road.

Mr Bird said it “looked like a scene from the Blitz” with the fires, four fire engines and police cars converging on the Abbey.

He understood the fire engines were from Crowland, Spalding, Holbeach and The Deepings

Mr Eley said people speaking to him while he was “clearing up” were upset about the fires and even talking about leaving Crowland.

He said: “They were saying it makes you worry and think about leaving Crowland – that’s not what I am going to do.”

Mr Eley described the fires as “random” and said he was not specifically targeted.

He praised firefighters for their fast response and said: “It’s a good job they are just up the road.”

The second car destroyed by fire was a Renault Megane parked in Church Lane.

Lincolnshire Cooperative praised the public for calling the fire service to tackle the blaze at its loading bay.

The fire at the store caused only minor damage, but temporarily knocked out a satellite dish and put a stop to the sale of Lottery tickets for the day.

Company spokesman Michelle Scott said: “There was some minor damage to the back areas of our Crowland food store after a small fire.

“This affected our ability to sell Lottery tickets on that day because of an issue with the satellite dish.

“It was quickly fixed and we are now selling Lottery tickets as normal.

“We were otherwise open as usual and we would like to thank members of the public for alerting the fire brigade and our staff for their hard work during the disruption.”