Plea to help catch arsonists who endangered lives

PUBLISHED: 06:30 17 August 2011 | UPDATED: 14:19 17 August 2011

Owner John Martin outside Drifters fish and chip shop in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt.

Owner John Martin outside Drifters fish and chip shop in Fakenham. Picture: Ian Burt.

Archant © 2011

A Fakenham fish and chip shop owner whose business was subjected to two arson attacks at the weekend said the fires put lives in danger and urged people to help police catch the culprits.

Norfolk Police are treating the incidents as arson with intent to endanger life.

Emergency services were called to Drifters in the early hours of Sunday morning with police arriving at the scene at around 12.45am.

A door to a flat above the fish and chip shop had been set alight.

Two men were taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn for treatment for smoke inhalation and both were discharged at about 8am on Sunday.

The fire destroyed the door and caused smoke damage and police are investigating links to a fire at the back door of the fish and chip shop at around 11.40pm on Friday.

There is one flat above Drifters and two behind and John Martin, 48, who has owns the flats and the fish and chip shop said there would have been a total of about five or six people in the flats at the time of the fires.

One of them during the second incident was Fakenham mayor, Jeremy Punchard, who is a retained fire fighter and was called to attend with a fire crew.

Mr Punchard did not wish to comment.

Mr Martin said: “For this to happen once is very bad but to happen twice is horrendous and we are just very fortunate that these fires were noticed very shortly after they were started because if they had been left to spread for much longer they would have put the lives of the people in these flats in serious danger. It would have completely destroyed the business premises and the flats.

“I don’t know why anyone would do this. I do not have any enemies that I am aware of and the people in the flats say the same, it is just completely baffling.

“I have owned this fish and chip shop in Fakenham for 20 years, eight years at its current premises, and this is the first serious arson attack that I have heard of in the town.

“It is impossible that there is nobody out there with information about this, so I would urge anyone who saw anything suspicious or has any information to get in touch with the police so that the person or people responsible are caught to make sure that it does not happen again. It could have been so much worse.”

Mr Martin said that he has had to discard all food and packaging stock on the premises due to smoke damage and the cost of this along with repairs to the building will run into thousands of pounds.

He said he was still sorting out his insurance claim and he has hired a security firm to remain at the premises each night.

Mr Martin also confirmed that Drifters, which has been closed since the first fire, was due to reopen for business yesterday.

He said: “My staff have worked incredibly hard to get the place ready to open again so quickly and I can’t praise them enough.”

Police would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed either incident or has information concerning them.

Contact Det Con Richard Moden at King’s Lynn CID on 0845 456 4567 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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