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Police arrest three boys over seafront blaze
9:00am Saturday 17th August 2013 in Local News
TWO 12-year-old boys have been arrested after fire swept through a building near the Kursaal in Southend.
The two, along with a 17-yearold boy, were arrested nearby after the blaze, which began at 6.30pm on Wednesday in a derelict house, next to the car park in Southchurch Avenue.
They were arrested on suspicion of arson and bailed pending further inquiries.
The arrests came as firefighter Al Green, station officer at Southend, praised his staff for stopping the fire spreading further. He said: “Smoke travelled through the roof void filling the entire block with smoke, so we evacuated the occupied house which is at the other end of the block.
“Crews did an excellent job of containing and extinguishing the fire.
“This could easily have spread along the entire block had it not been for the crews’ hard work in tackling the fire and stopping it as quickly as they did.”
Resident Florence Tall, who was led to safety from her neighbouring home, said: “We had a fire here just after Christmas. Somebody set it off out the back.
“There were squatters in there as well at one point.I do worry about those empty houses. It doesn’t seem safe.”
The block has been earmarked for use as part of a new development, but three of its four homes have been empty for more than two years.
The empty properties are owned by developer Inner London Group which is planning to build new homes, shops and leisure facilities on the seafront.
A spokesman for Southend Council said it met the developer about its plans for the site yesterday.
The Inner London Group did not respond to the Echo’s request for comments before the paper went to press.
A police spokesman said: “Police were contacted about the fire just after 6.30pm on Wednesday.
“Two 12-year-old boys and a 17-year-old boy, all from Southend, were arrested nearby. A small number of residents were evacuated as a precaution.”
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