Police raise alarm and get family out of house after tree arsonists strike again

The torched tree in Oldland Common

The torched tree in Oldland Common

Tree arsonists have struck again overnight, with conifers in Oldland Common and Barrs Court set alight.

Police on patrol in Oldland in the early hours of today saw a huge conifer in flames in the front garden of a detached house in Oakleigh Gardens and banged on the door of the house to get the family out.

Jane Simpkins, her husband Rob and their children Tom, 14, and Madeleine, 10, had been asleep. Mrs Simpkins said: “We woke up when we heard banging on the door and the police shouting at us to get out as the tree was on fire. I was a bit disorientated but looked out and saw this orange glow. The tree was on fire from top to bottom.”

While the fire was being extinguished and the police helicopter was scrambled to search for the arsonists, they kept warm in an ambulance rapid response car that happened to be nearby before being allowed to return to their home.

The charred tree in Parkwall Crescent

The charred tree in Parkwall Crescent

Mrs Simpkins said she feared that had the wind been blowing in a different direction, the flames might have reached the house.

She urged householders to be on their guard against similar attacks.

She said she had been very impressed with the prompt action of the police and that she would be writing to the Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset to express her thanks. “They were brilliant,” she said.

Earlier fire crews had been called out to a conifer hedge on fire in Parkwall Crescent. Police are appealing for witnesses and information about the two fires which happened between midnight and 1am.

Neighbourhood PC Phil Busvine said: “Local people will know that there have been problems in the past with conifer trees being set on fire in this area.

“We have plans in place to respond to this sort of incident, and we quickly searched the area with the help of the police helicopter.

“Deliberate fires take up the emergency services’ time unnecessarily, and while no one has been hurt, there’s always a risk that a fire could spread to someone’s home.

“If you know anyone who has an unhealthy interest in fires, or who has been coming home in the early hours smelling of smoke, I’d ask you to call us on 101. You could also ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call.”
PC Busvine also asked local people to be on the alert for anyone acting suspiciously in neighbours’ gardens and call any concerns in to police straight away.