Arson woes leave neighbours in fear

Stefan Zgliniski and Robin Simm at the flats and (inset) damage caused by one arson attack

Stefan Zgliniski and Robin Simm at the flats and (inset) damage caused by one arson attack

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NEIGHBOURS today spoke of their fears after the latest life-threatening arson attack on their blocks of flats.

Fire crews have been called out 13 times in just six months to the flats on All Hallows Road, Bispham, where just a handful of residents are still living.

Vandals have been repeatedly targeting the waste chutes and bin compounds of the residences, causing smoke and fire damage.

In the latest attack, two fire engines were called out to a fire at 3.30am yesterday.

But residents of the flats said they have seen many more attacks in recent years, telling The Gazette of up to 10 fires in just one of the four compounds.

Robin Simm, 69, a resident and former chairman of the resident’s association at the flats, said: “Since they boarded up the flats there’s gangs all round the back smoking and drinking. There’s a lot of fires.

“Next door won’t come out sometimes. I have to empty her bins for her when they’re all sitting up there.

“The fires annoy me, it’s dangerous and they’re an ongoing problem.”

Residents believe vandals have broken the locks to the bin compounds, or have dropped lit materials down the first floor chutes.

Stefan Zglinicki, 62, said: “The door was padlocked – I can’t see it being the residents. I think it’s the same person each time, someone who’s got something about fire.”

Mr Simm said a family who lived above the bin compound, and a resident who lived next door to it eventually left due to the arson attacks.

He added: “They got fed up with the gangs. One man went out to tackle them and they threatened him.”

Residents are now struggling to open the door to the compound after the heat of the flames weakened the door’s rollers making it difficult for older residents to access.

Mick Spencer, watch manager at Bispham fire station, said: “This is the 13th such fire since March.

“It is very worrying for the residents.

“It’s a drain on resources.

“While we’re dealing with this we can’t attend other incidents.”

Fire services, police and Blackpool Coastal Housing are now working to secure the bin compounds to prevent future fires.

Many of the flats have been boarded up ready for the buildings to be bulldozed later this year.

But residents say they are being forgotten and neglected by the authorities in the meantime.

Mr Simm said: “We are living in the forgotten flats.”

Peter Jefferson, Chief Executive of Blackpool Coastal Housing, said: “This is obviously a worrying situation for some of the tenants and we have been working closely with them to make sure that they are reassured about the work we are doing to attempt to stop these incidents.

“We are working with the police, fire service and council and we are looking to catch and stop the people who are responsible for this and we encourage anyone with more information to get in touch.”

“We have already followed the recommendations of the police and fire service to try and secure the bin stores and providing more secure bins. We are installing CCTV cameras in the area to try and tackle this deliberate crime again.”

Anyone with information on the arson attacks should call police on 101.