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AXMINSTER: Minster closed by arson attack

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Minster Church in Axminster will be closed for the foreseeable future because of an arson attack.
Initially, the aim was to stay open as usual and a service was held on Friday March 7th, the day after the fire.
The Reverend John Streeting told Pulman’s View: “The smoke was a bit in our throats during the service, but it is business as usual.”
But The Reverend Streeting and his team were forced to change their plans.
A statement issued through parochial church council honorary secretary and assistant church warden Jennifer Royle explained: “The church is being closed, by the insurers for health and safety reasons, due to smoke damage and a team of specialist cleaners will be required.
“Damage was confined to the side chapel where a bookcase and a Jacobean reading desk were damaged.
“Although insured, the church will unfortunately have to bear the brunt of some of the cost of the cleaning.
“We are anxious that the people know that the building is closed.”
Firefighters were despatched at about 12 noon last Thursday.
Investigators from the fire brigade and police were at the scene throughout the afternoon to establish the cause and subsequently concluded arson.
Police have issued a witness appeal and have also revealed that the alarm was raised by an unknown person from the nearby phone box in Trinity Square.
Anyone with information that could help investigators is asked to call the force switchboard on 101 and quote crime reference KA/14/104
It was the second fire in Axminster that day. Firefighters were called to a compound at the bottom of Castle Hill just before 4am.
A spokesperson for the fire brigade said: "A horsebox was well alight and had set fire to five other cars.
"Four vehicles were severely damaged and two further vehicles were slightly damaged."
This incident is treated as theft from motor vehicle because it is believed that burglars accidentally caused the fire when trying to steal a winch.
A police spokesperson said: “A winch was taken from a recovery truck in the garage.
“It is believed that the fire may have been sparked when the power cables to the winch were cut.
Anyone with information about this incident is also asked to call 101.
The crime reference is KA/14/103.


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