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‘The children have no outside play equipment left’ - Arson attack destroys Fakenham nursery’s play equipment

PUBLISHED: 20:00 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 20:00 05 January 2018

Little Angels Pre-School manager Rita Bridges next to the container that has been destroyed by fire. Picture: Ian Burt

Little Angels Pre-School manager Rita Bridges next to the container that has been destroyed by fire. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

The deputy manager of a nursery in Fakenham has said that an arson attack on a storage container has destroyed thousands of pounds worth of toys and equipment.

A fire was deliberately ignited in a storage container outside the Little Angels Pre-School in Fakenham. Picture: Ian BurtA fire was deliberately ignited in a storage container outside the Little Angels Pre-School in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt

The blaze tore through the metal container, which was located at the back of Little Angels Pre-School on Trap Lane at around 6am on Friday.

The flames melted children’s toys that had put into storage over the Christmas period and the heat became so intense that three climbing frames which were near to the container completely melted.

Deputy manager, Helen Bell, said the fire had destroyed thousands of pounds worth of equipment and some of it is irreplaceable.

“It is not a good start to the new year,” she said.

A fire was deliberately ignited in a storage container outside the Little Angels Pre-School in Fakenham. Picture: Ian BurtA fire was deliberately ignited in a storage container outside the Little Angels Pre-School in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt

“We are a charity and we had built up all this stuff over almost 20 years, some of it just can’t be replaced.

“We stored all of our indoors toys in there and next to container was three climbing frames - the heat from container was so much that it melted them. The children are back on Monday and have been left with no outside play equipment at all.

“It is thousands of pounds lost.”

The fire is believed to have been started deliberately and Norfolk Police confirmed that it could be linked to a similar incident which occurred at around 7.30am on Wednesday at the offices of Fakenham Connect on Oak Street.

Miss Bell said that on Wednesday night or early morning Thursday there had also been a break-in, the lock to the container had been damaged and a new gazebo smashed.

Fakenham Mayor, George Acheson, confirmed on the same night there was an attempted break-in at a town council-owned garage which is situated 30 yards from the nursery.

He added: “We’ve also had an arson attack on a bench in Aldiss Park some months ago and in addition we have had other benches vandalised in Millenium Park and St Peter’s Garden. I know of no connection between these incidents but I suspect that the council will want to consider enlarging its CCTV coverage.”

Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area or with information should contact PC Michael Culligan at Fakenham Police Station on 101. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via their anonymous online form.

Police warn residents to be vigilant

Norfolk Police confirmed that the arson attacks at Fakenham Connect on Wednesday and the fire in the storage container in the early hours of Friday are being treated as linked.

Fakenham Inspector Ed Brown said: “Fortunately no one has been injured in either of these incidents however fires have the ability to spread quickly which has the potential for unintended consequences.

“We would advise businesses to check that outside areas are properly secured to prevent against unlawful access. In both of these cases, the perpetrator has entered a storage area before starting a fire.

“If we remove the opportunity we reduce the likelihood of these types of offences occurring. The timing of these offences also suggests that whoever is responsible is out and about in the town first thing in the morning when there are few people moving about.

“We will be increasing our patrols at these times.”

MORE: Investigation launched into arson at council offices

MORE: Arson attacks could be linked

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