Police and fire officers in Northamptonshire have said they are “extremely concerned” about youths trespassing in derelict buildings following a fire at a former car showroom in Daventry.
Officers were called to the property in Warwick Street last Wednesday (15 May) at about 6.45pm, following reports of people shouting and causing damage inside the building.
A large group of young people had gathered inside and outside the building. When officers arrived, they could smell smoke. However, the fire was already out by the time the fire service arrived.
Sergeant Sam Dobbs from Northamptonshire Police said he was extremely concerned about the actions of the young people involved, which could have had far more serious consequences.
He said: “The outcome of this incident could have been very different had the fire taken hold. The fire service carried out a thorough search of the building and it seems this may not be the first time fires have been set.
“But even without the fire, the building is derelict and unsafe and these youngsters are putting themselves in potential danger just by going into the building.
“The incident tied up police and fire resources for nearly two hours, as well as staff from Daventry District Council staff, who quickly came out to board up broken windows and doors.”
Sergeant Dobbs is urging parents and carers to be aware of where their children are going and to talk to them about the dangers of fire and derelict buildings.
He added: “All the teenagers at the scene were spoken to by officers. Their parents were called, told what had happened and asked to come and take them home.
“With the long summer evenings now here, we know young people will want to be out and about with their friends, but they should think very carefully about where they go and what they are doing – what might seem innocent fun at the time could have a far more serious outcome.”
Station Manager Warren Ellison, from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue said the building had a weak roof and floors that trespassers could easily fall through.
He said: “If you put fire into the mix, you have an extremely dangerous scenario, where anyone caught in the building could easily get hurt and trapped.
“We know that fires have been set in this building before and we are working closely with the police and council to make the building secure and warn children and their parents of the potential dangers. We are committed to working together to make Daventry a safer place for everyone”
Anyone who sees any suspicious activity or large groups gathering near the Warwick Street property or any other derelict building is asked to call Northamptonshire Police on 101.