Police probe sparks fears that Grangemouth fireraiser is on the loose

Firefighters battle against the smoke and flames to contain and extinguish the blaze
Firefighters battle against the smoke and flames to contain and extinguish the blaze

There are real fears a fireraiser is running amok in one of the Falkirk area’s most combustible towns.

Police are now investigating two fires, both involving recycling bins, which broke out within 24 hours of each other in the chemical industry hotbed of Grangemouth.

Firefighters were on the scene for more than two hours (Pictures: Michael Gillen)

Firefighters were on the scene for more than two hours (Pictures: Michael Gillen)

The first caused thousands of pounds worth of damage when fire took hold in a large Falkirk Council wheelie bin storage area in Carronvale Yard, Wood Street, last Friday, and the second forced residents of La Porte Precinct to be evacuated from their homes on Saturday.

Councillor Robert Spears stated Grangemouth is one town you certainly do not want to have a fireraiser running around.

He said: “My main concern was the amount of smoke it sent into the air and the close proximity of the timber yard in Wood Street. If the fire spread there it would have gone up like a tinderbox.

“Then you have the other incident in La Porte a day later – there is now a real fear a fireraiser is running around Grangemouth. We need to track this person down as soon as possible.

“This is an industrial town with a lot of chemicals in it. These fires are happening in or near a designated hazard zone.”

Last Friday, Wood Street residents looked on in horror when a massive fire lit up the night sky just before 7 p.m. The alarm went up and four appliances from Central Scotland fire service were quickly on the scene, advising householders to stay inside and keep their windows closed to shut out the choking black smoke which was now drifting over the street.

Nicky Barr was one of 20 firefighters battling to contain the blaze and stop it spreading to a nearby timber yard and residential properties.

He said: “We penned it in – a 20 metre square area of hundreds upon hundreds of burning bins. There was a lot of smoke in the air due to the plastic so we had to use our breathing apparatus.

“There was never any danger of it spreading once we arrived, but it still took us an hour to get it under control.”

Councillor David Balfour, who lives near Wood Street, said: “An act of mindless vandalism such as this could have cost lives. Having witnessed the scale of the fire, I have nothing but praise for Central Scotland Fire Service and the police.”

The fire extinguished, questions were then asked how the blaze – which destroyed around 3000 wheelie bins, costing a total of several thousand pounds – could have started in the first place.

Police are treating the incident as suspicious, linking it to the other deliberate fire which happened a day later, just after 7.30 p.m. in La Porte Precinct. Several households had to be evacuated from flats due to the fire, which started in a small food recycling container.

A Central Scotland Police spokeswoman said: “No-one was seriously injured in either incident. Police are treating the fires as suspicious and are keen to speak to anyone who was in these areas around these times.

“We believe both incidents are linked and urge anyone with information to contact us as soon as possible.”