Hero police officer tackles flames after second arson attack in a week on sheltered flats in Budleigh Salterton

A passing police officer bravely tackled flames at sheltered housing in Budleigh Salterton which has been the target of two arson attacks in a week.

The hero constable was on patrol when he spotted the deliberately-started fire coming from a gas main outside Greenhaven, in Greenway lane, at around 2am on Wednesday (July 29).

He halted the blaze using an extinguisher from his squad car.

Residents in the 24 flats were evacuated during the incident.

East Devon District Council (EDDC), which owns the sheltered accommodation, says it is the second act of arson there in five days.

A recycling box was set alight at the property’s entrance on Friday, July 24.

The authority has issued a warning all of its tenants to be vigilant following a spate of deliberate fires in Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “Two small fires within five days at the Greenhaven sheltered properties in Budleigh Salterton are being investigated as arson by police.

“The 24 flats are owned by East Devon District Council who are working alongside the police and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, who were called out to both incidents.

“The first fire was in the early hours of Friday 24 July when a recycling box at the entrance to some of the flats was set alight.

“The fire burnt out a recycling storage box, an outside light and some UPVC cladding on the front of the building. There was a partial evacuation of residents and nobody was injured.

“District council housing officers were at the site during Friday to give reassurance to tenants and to assess the damage.

“Earlier today (Wednesday 29 July) the alarm was raised again at Greenhaven when a fire was discovered coming from an external gas mains which had been deliberately set alight.

“Thankfully, a police officer passing by on patrol noticed the fire and bravely tackled the blaze with a fire extinguisher he had in his patrol vehicle.

“The fire service attended and evacuated residents whilst gas engineers ensured the gas main was made safe. No-one was hurt.

“Council housing officers are on site today providing reassurance to residents. Police and the fire service were also at the scene as part of their investigations.

“The council is asking all housing tenants in East Devon to be vigilant following a number of fires in Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton.

“Tenants are asked to ensure all fire doors, communal entrance doors and bin store doors are kept shut and locked where possible and that all communal hallway areas are clear of any items.

“Tenants are advised to put out their recycling and waste as late as possible before collection.

“Please report anything suspicious to the police by calling 101, quoting the crime reference number CR/61698/20 or in an emergency call 999.”

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Flats evacuated in Budleigh after early-hours arson attack ‘near gas pipe’

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