AN ARSON investigation has been launched after wheelie bins were set on fire in Whitley Bay town centre – causing damage to three adjoining shop units.
Firefighters were called to a back lane behind Park View just after 10pm last night (May 23) following reports of a fire.
On arrival, they found two wheelie bins – packed with rubbish, cardboard and paper – ablaze and spreading to a empty barber shop and the adjoining Alistair Sundin estate agents.
The crews, from North Tyneside East Community Fire Station in North Shields, had to break a window in the back office of the estate agents to stop the fire spreading.
Local residents, whose houses were just yards from the blaze, watched on in horror, hoping the fire would not spread to any more units or the martial arts studio above.
Eventually, the fire was extinguished and police officers guarded the scene overnight.
And today (Thursday) the clean up began with further investigations of the scene and shop staff counting the cost.
Alistair Sundin, who was called to the scene at 11pm and stayed until 1.30am, said the fire had caused major disruption to his business.
“The back office is chargrilled, but the front office is fine,” he said.
“The phones, internet and computers are down at the minute. We can’t access the client files.
“I got a phone call at about 11pm and when I came down there was several police cars.
“It was quite a shock seeing it all.”
He added: “The shop next door had water gushing out, and there was a lot of rubbish in it.
“The owner of Eastcoast MMA studio above came down to the scene and the premises are smoke damaged.
“Police officers suspect its arson.
“I’ve been here 12 years and never had an ounce of problems.”
A police spokesperson said: “At 10.40pm yesterday (May 23) police were informed a wheelie bin was on fire at the rear of a premises in Park View, Whitley Bay, causing damage to the premises.
“No one was injured. The cause of the fire is being investigated, at this stage it is too early to say whether or not it was started deliberately.
“Anyone with any information should contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191.”
Click on the video above to see the damage in full and to get the thoughts of the owner...