Centre fire could be linked to arsons

jpco 23-7-14 Fire at Oakwood Sports Hall (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140721-134446001
jpco 23-7-14 Fire at Oakwood Sports Hall (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140721-134446001

A fire which damaged a sports centre could be linked to a series of arsons which have blighted the Horley area.

Emergency services were called to the Oakwood Sports Centre, in Balcombe Road, when the fire broke out overnight on Sunday (July 20).

Detectives from Eastern CID were at the scene on Monday morning (July 21) investigating the cause of the fire alongside officers from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said the possibility had not been ruled out that the fire was linked to a series of arsons in the area.

They included one at a property in Massetts Road, Horley, on July 2, and one at Horley Lawn Tennis Club, in Vicarage Lane, on June 22.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Antony Archibald said: “We are in the process of carrying out a thorough investigating into the fire alongside the fire service.

“At this stage we are keeping an open mind as to whether it links with the other suspicious fires we have had in the area.”

DCI Archibald said it was “extremely important” for anyone who saw anything unusual in the Balcombe Road area between 10pm on Sunday and 6am on Monday to get in touch with police.

He added: “It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think information you hold might be, it could be vital to us and our investigation.”

Warning people about the danger of starting fires, he called on members of the public to think about whether they knew anyone who had been going out late at night and returning home in the early hours, possibly smelling of smoke or accelerants.

DCI Archibald added: “Fortunately nobody was hurt during this incident, but fires of this nature can put lives at risk as well as causing huge unrest when it involves community facilities.

“We fully understand that these fires are of great concern to the public.

“I would like to wholeheartedly reassure you that we are treating them as a matter of priority and are doing everything we can to put a stop to it with increased patrols, while there is a huge amount of work being done behind the scenes.”

A 43-year-old man from Epsom was arrested on July 5 in connection with the fires in Massetts Road and Vicarage Lane as well as three fires in Reigate on June 26, June 28 and July 12.

He was released on bail until August 21.

A reward of £2,000 is still on offer from the independent charity Crimestoppers for any information passed to them which leads to the arrest and charge of an offender.

The appeal also been featured on BBC One’s Crimewatch Roadshow at the start of the month.

Anyone with any information should contact Surrey Police by calling 101 (999 in an emergency) quoting the reference number P14210504.

Alternatively report it online using our online reporting system at http://www.surrey.police.uk/.

You can also report it anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.