Fire service expresses fears as city fire is believed to be arson

Now Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service fear ‘it is only a matter of time’ before it is reporting the death or serious injury of a firefighter or a member of public at the location.

Eight appliances were mobilised to a large fire at a disused building on the corner of Watling Street and Friday Street in Leicester city centre. (Photo: Loughborough Echo)

Eight appliances were mobilised to a large fire at a disused building on the corner of Watling Street and Friday Street in Leicester city centre. (Photo: Loughborough Echo)

Eight fire appliances were mobilised to a disused building in Leicester this morning to tackle a large fire – the seventh of its nature at the site in the last two years.

And now Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service fear ‘it is only a matter of time’ before it is reporting the death or serious injury of a firefighter or a member of public at the location.

Multiple calls were received at 2.42am this morning (Thursday, February 9) to report a large fire in a disused building on the corner of Watling Street and Friday Street in Leicester city.

Fire appliances from Central, Eastern, Western, Southern, Wigston and Melton Mowbray Fire and Rescue Stations were dispatched as well as two Arial Ladder Platforms from Birstall and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Firefighting crews are said to have done a ‘fantastic and professional job’ in dealing with the large building fire that also involved a large number of vehicles.

The derelict building, measuring 50m x 25m, was totally destroyed by the fire and included a partial collapse.

Eight appliances were mobilised to a large fire at a disused building on the corner of Watling Street and Friday Street in Leicester city centre. (Photo: Loughborough Echo)

Eight appliances were mobilised to a large fire at a disused building on the corner of Watling Street and Friday Street in Leicester city centre. (Photo: Loughborough Echo)

In addition, 33 cars have been destroyed with a further 20 damaged by fire, smoke and radiant heat within the compound at the rear of the derelict building.

The building unit opposite the fire, Parkway Volkswagen, and a further six cars were also damaged by radiated heat.

The service says this is the seventh fire of this nature on the site in the last two years – despite the fire service attending the site on eight occasions in the past six months as part of its preventative strategy to reduce the risk of further fires occurring.

Eight appliances were mobilised to a large fire at a disused building on the corner of Watling Street and Friday Street in Leicester city centre. (Photo: Loughborough Echo)

Eight appliances were mobilised to a large fire at a disused building on the corner of Watling Street and Friday Street in Leicester city centre. (Photo: Loughborough Echo)

A spokesperson from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Our main fear is that it is only a matter of time before we are reporting the death or serious injury of a firefighter or a member of public.

“The impact of this fire on your fire and rescue service will last for days because of the detailed work we will now have to complete to make sure that the damaged building is safe.

“This will, of course, restrict us from dealing with other important tasks.

“The fire has also caused disruption to morning traffic in the city as roads have been closed to keep the public safe from the fire, smoke and the unsafe building structure.

“Although roads are now open, we will remain at the site whilst we carry out a detailed investigation, using our fire investigators and the regional fire investigation dog, Dexter.

“Initial findings lead us to believe that the cause of the fire was deliberate ignition, arson.

“Without any doubt, these acts of arson are permanently damaging the historic tapestry of our city and are also causing untold economic and environmental damage.

“We will continue to work with our colleagues at Leicestershire Police and Leicester City Council to do everything we can to prevent this type of unnecessary damage happening again.

“People in our communities may have information about this latest fire or know who is responsible for it.

“We would encourage you to contact Leicestershire Police or the Crimestoppers phone line 0800 555 111 to provide any information you can.”