UPDATE: Flames from Pulborough churchyard arson ‘as tall as the church’

St Mary's Pulborough churchyard fire
St Mary's Pulborough churchyard fire

A witness to a Pulborough arson attack has described how the flames were as tall as the church that was targeted last night (Monday October 28).

Firefighters were called to St Mary’s Church in London Road at around 9pm.

It is believed a shed and a number of trees were set alight, a spokesperson for Sussex Police said.

A local woman, who was passing by the scene at the time, told the County Times: “It was 9pm and I heard the cracking of the fire. I called the fire department and they contacted the police.

“The fire quickly went up from the shed between two trees and all the branches have now gone.

“I was quite scared. There were so many ambers flying out that could have caused damage to the neighbours’ properties.

“Fire fighters fought for about 60 to 90 minutes. I’ve heard that it’s now a crime scene and there’s no one allowed to go near it.”

Watch commander at Storrington fire station, Martin Mckilligin, said: “We were called out about 9.20pm to a shed on fire in St Mary’s Church and we sent two units. A large storage shed was on fire underneath two yew trees.

“We extinguished the fire using one jet.

“The centre of the yew trees suffered a lot of burning. They’re an integral part of the church and they’ve been there for as long as the church has.

“The shed including all its gardening equipment and wooden chairs were destroyed.”

Mr McKilligin said he believes the fire was deliberate.

“It’s the first time I’ve had any dealings of this sort in Pulborough.”

Sussex Police are currently investigating.