Man arrested on suspicion of Steyning arson

POLICE have arrested a 33-year-old man after a fire in Jarvis Lane, Steyning, this morning (February 21).

Tuesday, 21st February 2012, 4:08 pm

The man, described as local, was arrested on suspicion of arson shortly after a small fire at a house of someone he knows in Jarvis Lane.

No occupants were in the house at the time when an armchair was set alight just after 11am and brought under control by West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.

Detectives are actively investigating a spate of fires across the town.

These include a fire in the porch of a house in Mill Road, Steyning, in the early hours of today (21 February).

A couple and their child were woken at 3.20am by the sound of the smoke alarm. They then found a fire inside their porch, where umbrellas and walking sticks had been set alight, and quickly extinguished the fire themselves.

Detective Inspector Jo Banks said: “It was fortunate that the alarm roused the family and the fire in the porch was quickly put out. However it led to smoke filling the house causing the family some discomfort, although they did not require any treatment from paramedics.

“This fire could have proved very serious. We are investigating it as arson with intent to endanger life and we will be linking it to a series of fires in the village.”

The more recent fires took place on 16 February. The first was in a shed at the rear of a house in Church Street at about 7.35pm and the second took place shortly after 8.30pm in a skip in Station Road. Both were extinguished by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and no other property was affected and no one was hurt.

DI Banks added “We are actively investigating the series of fires which have been set in bins, skips, porches and sheds and concentrating our resources in solving this crimes. With the fires taking place after dark, patrols have been stepped up in the village each night. We are working with colleagues from Horsham District Council and the fire service as well as the community to identify the person responsible.

Horsham District commander Chief Inspector Sharon Parker said: “I am aware that this series has caused residents concern and we will be advertising a multi-agency street meeting in the next few days so that people can discuss these issues with us.

“We would appreciate residents checking their smoke alarms and securing their porches and sheds, making sure their bins are out of sight and away from their homes. These are opportunist arsons and would like residents to try and reduce the chances of being a victims of crime whilst we investigate the series.

“We would ask for the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour. Anyone with information is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0845 60 70 999.”