Experts called in as Bonnybridge fires continue

Firefighters worked through the morning at JD Joinery in High Bonnybridge
Firefighters worked through the morning at JD Joinery in High Bonnybridge

A team of investigators from Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade has been probing the latest in a series of blazes in Bonnybridge.

The specialists were drafted in to examine the cause of a fire that destroyed a warehouse in Broomhill Road on the night of January 5/6.

It was the latest fire at an industrial site in the High Bonnybridge area, prompting fears among the local business community that an arsonist could be on the loose.

The premises of JD Joinery was the latest warehouse to be reduced to a pile of smouldering debris, echoing the fate of a property belonging to SDS Logistics which was destroyed last year.

In total there have been five suspicious fires in the village in the past 11 months.

Although there have been no reported injuries as a result, each has caused significant disruption to the community including families being evacuated from their homes, road closures and the cancellation of rail services.

This week Central Scotland Police said they were still investigating the latest incident, adding they had no new evidence to suggest that the spate of fires was linked.

But The Falkirk Herald can reveal there are several significant similarities in the circumstances surrounding each blaze.

Each has been ignited under the cover of darkness - between 11.30 p.m. and 4.40 a.m.

The fires have all occurred at buildings unlikely to be occupied or checked upon during the night - three have been at industrial units, with the other two in derelict buildings.

And each blaze has occurred within the same square mile.

The series of unexplained fires began on March 6 last year when a large storage shed in Broomhill Road belonging to SDS Logistics was razed to the ground. Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service were alerted at 2 a.m.

Speaking at the time, a spokesman for the company told The Falkirk Herald that they suspected it was the work of an arsonist.

On April 8, a derelict warehouse in Seabegs Roads was destroyed, with the alarm raised at 4.40 a.m.

The incident that caused the biggest disruption occurred on April 21 at around 5 a.m. when a small industrial unit in Greenhill Road was reported to be on fire.

A 200m exclusion zone was set-up after fears were raised that propane gas cylinders may be stored in the building.

Eleven houses were evacuated as a result - and the main line linking Glasgow and Edinburgh was shut at the height of the morning rush hour.

The former Ebenezer Gospel Hall in Bridge Street - which has lain empty for several years - was the next building to be set on fire. Firefighters raced to the scene at 3.30 a.m. on May 23, and were forced to close the road for two hours as they brought the blaze under control.