Hull high rise fires ‘being started by arsonists’

Hull high rise fires ‘being started by arsonists’

AN OFFICER at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) has stated his belief that a spate of recent fires in Hull high rises were ‘started deliberately’.

Hull Daily Mail reported on the fires and the response from HFRS’ Matthew Sutcliffe, public safety manager for the North. The five fires have taken place over the last couple of weeks, beginning on 22 March with a fire in the internal bin chute at Great Thornton Street, before another rubbish fire on the third floor landing in the same building three days later.

In turn, five days later on 30 March the same building saw a blocked rubbish chute set alight, with firefighters targeted by ‘youths spitting at them’. The next day another blaze at the flats came from a grill pan on the 12th floor, while the final fire on 2 April took place at the Valiant Drive flats, where a fire was lit in another rubbish chute.

Responding to the fires, Mr Sutcliffe stated that he believes the fires were ‘started deliberately’, and called on residents to ‘help tackle the problem’. He cited the number of rubbish chute fires in the short space of time, suggesting they were ‘started maliciously’, but pointed out that Hull’s high rise flats are safe ‘despite heightened concerns’ after the Grenfell Tower fire.

He commented: ‘It is very difficult to determine the cause of fires like this because the scene burns away, which leaves little evidence behind. But my hunch is that, with so many incidents so close together, these rubbish chute fires have been started with malicious intent. We have had a busy weekend with three tower block fires in just four days.

‘High rise fires are the most dangerous we have to tackle, which makes this more concerning. We are working closely with the police and we have both increased patrols in Great Thornton Street. But, on the back of what happened at Grenfell, we want to assure residents these flats are safe. Residents need to know they are not living in a potential towering inferno and we have checked them thoroughly.’

Mr Sutcliffe added: ‘We need residents to be vigilant when disposing of waste and when they are out and about. They need to report any concerns to contact us. The fact is a discarded cigarette is just as dangerous as anti-social behaviour. The problem with rubbish chute fires is that the smoke filters through every floor, which is what happened at Valiant Drive.

‘The fire doors in place prevent fire spreading using a strip which expands in heat to shut out the air, but with smoke this heat isn’t present so the smoke seeps through. This week our safety teams will be visiting residents to reassure them. But we also need to ensure rubbish is collected more often. We are being really proactive and working with the police and Hull City Council to reduce these problems as quickly as possible.’