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Explosion fear after arsonists torch van in Totnes

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

'mindless': The burnt out camper van in Collins Road, Totnes Andy Uglow

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POLICE are hunting 'mindless' arsonists who set fire to a camper van and two cars in Totnes.

The blaze destroyed all three vehicles causing thousands of pounds damage.

Firefighters say it could have been much worse as the VW camper van, which had been bought by the owner just a week before, was a dual fuel vehicle with a liquid petroleum gas cylinder inside.

If the fire service had not been able to attend the 999 call promptly the cylinder may have exploded.

Firefighters were called to Collins Road on Halloween evening at 10.20pm to reports of a vehicle on fire.

When they arrived they found the camper van well alight.

Totnes station commander Roger Williams said: "We found it was a dual fuel VW Transporter and we had the risk of dealing with the gas cylinder exploding. In these situations we proceed with caution. Fortunately it wasn't close to any houses.

"The cylinder did catch light, but we managed to control it."

He said the woman owner of the camper van had been very upset by the fire.

"It is mindless really," he added.

"Whoever the culprits are they are putting the lives of others at risk."

The owner reported parking her van up at about 4pm that day and passers-by said they had seen no signs of a fire at 10pm.

The crew spent more than three hours dealing with the blaze. Just when members of the retained crew had returned home they were called out again to another fire. Two cars parked in the garage forecourt of Totnes Auto Services in Malt Mill Lane, just around the corner from the camper van blaze, had been set alight.

Kevin Hoare, owner of the garage, said: "It was a Ford Escort and a Peugeot and they were both burned out. I was woken up at 3am to be told what was happening.

"One of the cars was my loan car and one was waiting to be scrapped.

"We've not had any problem before."

Firefighter Williams said he could not be certain but it was likely the fires had been started by the same person or persons.

Police confirmed they were treating both fires as arson.

Anyone with information should call 101 quoting crime reference JS 12 1155.

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