A severe fire at a derelict pottery factory in Stoke-on-Trent in the early hours of today was deliberate ignition.
“Setting fires in derelict premises is an incredibly dangerous thing to do as not only does the fire spread quickly through these type of old, complex buildings, the firefighters who have to search the premises and deal with the fire are put at great risk.”
Mark Walchester, Incident Commander.
At the height of the incident at the former Wade Pottery in Westport Road, Burslem, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service had eight appliances, including an aerial ladder platform and a water carrier, at the scene.
The fire broke out at about 3.19 and a total of 40 firefighters attended as they fought the blaze through the night.
Incident Commander Mark Walchester said the fire had been difficult to tackle because the building was derelict and unsafe to enter.
“We had to deal with the fire from outside the building as it was structurally unsafe to enter. The fire was on the first floor and roof space and firefighters used three main jets as well as the aerial ladder platform to bring the fire under control.”
He added that firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to the façade of the building which is Grade II listed.
However, the fire had badly damaged the first floor and roof of the old pottery factory.
A fire investigation has since established the cause as deliberate ignition.
“There are many disused and derelict buildings of this type in the Stoke-on-Trent area and many are inadequately secured and attract children and young people as places to play, as well as people intent on vandalism or setting fires.
“Setting fires in derelict premises is an incredibly dangerous thing to do as not only does the fire spread quickly through these type of old, complex buildings, the firefighters who have to search the premises and deal with the fire are put at great risk as invariably floorboards and staircases are damaged or intentionally removed,” he said.
“Deliberate fires are extremely costly to deal with and a drain on our precious resources. There is too the possibility that whilst we are attending a fire set by an arsonist, we might be unable to respond to a genuine emergency.
“We are appealing to owners of disused buildings to ensure that their premises are adequately secured against intruders.”