‘Keep buildings occupied to prevent arsons’

Palm Beach Hotel on New South Promenade on fire on June 5, 2014

Palm Beach Hotel on New South Promenade on fire on June 5, 2014

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The most effective way of stopping arsonists torching empty resort buildings is to stop them becoming vacant in the first place, it was claimed.

Boarding up windows and keeping doors locked is a ‘good start’ but won’t stop determined firebugs, Lancashire Fire and Rescue service warned today.

Spokesman John Taylor spoke out as Allan Smith, 39, and David Phayer, 40, were found guilty of burning down the derelict Palm Beach Hotel on South Beach in June 2014.

The pair – who claimed they were raidingthe property but fled after hearing footsteps – will be sentenced on March 31.Mr Taylor said: “It’s a big issue obviously.

“With the recession we see more buildings becoming empty in Blackpool, Lancashire, and nationally, where businesses fail and buildings aren’t sold.

“It’s down to security but it’s not always effective. You can board up and lock up, and that’s a start, but a determined thief or someone intent on breaking in will do so.

“The other option is to patrol the building but that means an outlay of money and does not tend to happen.

“Ultimately it’s a vulnerable premise and can be set alight.”

He continued: “The ultimate security is to make sure a building is not left vacant but that’s easier said than done.”

Mr Taylor said specialist fire investigators are intent on tracking down any arsonists, and warned prospective firebugs that incriminating forensic evidence can survive flames.

He added: “We will use what forensic clues we can get, check CCTV footage, and speak to eye-witnesses.

“The public are our allies in that respect.”